Today’s Problem: Digital Work

Here, at work, we have a problem. Our server has not been working for over 24 hours now, including all of Monday and now, so far, the hours of this Tuesday workday.  All of us rely on the server to store our documents, allowing accessibility between us and not worrying about which document is the most current because it’s in one universal place.  But, now that it’s not working, I cannot access any of my project files.

Depending on your organization’s standard operating procedures (‘SOP’ around here) you probably have stipulations on what you can store on your hard drive and what can be transported and used (e.g. thumb drives).  Maybe it’s for security reasons or maybe it’s for storage reasons.   For me this translates to storing completed documents temporarily on my hard drive, but then elsewhere, whether it’s a CD or something else.  For documents that are in progress, I keep them on the server, where most of our work is kept.  If I were to store them elsewhere, I’d inevitably work on the wrong file and there would be chaos.

You see my problem. Considering the previous posts about our digital lives (#1 and #2), it’s at least a current topic.  In my case, yes, I am too dependent on the digital world for my work. However, my oral history project is a digital project (i.e. digital recording, digital images, and word documents) and it wouldn’t work on paper.  It’s a lesson to us that we need to rethink our methods of working.  I do not have a solution, but I think it comes back to the point that if we are planning to rely on digital work more and more, then we need to be diligent and have a disaster management plan, so to speak. 

My work is not lost, just temporarily suspended. This has never happened before, and I have faith that it will be solved shortly; but the fact that I’m unable to work on my project without access to the server is currently hindering my level of productivity.

Does anyone a solution?  Does this ever happen where you work?


and unrelated, but: Happy Election Day.

don’t forget to VOTE!

Your Digital Life #1

Do you imagine what people will know about you 100 years from now? What will they remember? What artifacts from your life will remain? Comparing 1908 to 2008 and our current state / adoration for material culture, it seems as though no one will ever fade away.  This is good news, right? No one wants to be forgotten and it is always interesting to learn about someone who lived 100 years ago. 

Still, what about the artifacts? Aside from general stuff, like furniture, clothes, house wares, etc. the things that really speak about you are photographs, letters, diaries, or maybe a portfolio.  But, what about the digital side of our lives? Most of us keep digital photographs and emails over photograph albums and boxes of letters.  Some of us have blogs, whether something like Preservation in Pink or something more akin to a diary, only anyone on the internet can read it. Whatever you choose, much of our modern lives exist online.

On one hand, this makes everything portable without actually having to move it. You can access your digital life from anywhere: email, photographs, blogs, Facebook, etc.  You don’t have to store hundreds of photographs and worry about losing them in the process of moving.  Important letters (now emails) won’t get lost in your stacks of books and papers or accidentally recycled.  Programs such as Google allow you to have many Gmail accounts and many Picasa albums online. I love these programs: no need for deleting email (and I can organize it) and I store all of my photographs on Picasa, heaven forbid something happens to my computer.

On the other hand, if we think in the long term: how do you pass on emails and digital space to your grandchildren? Do you have to write down all of your accounts and passwords? Do you really want your life stored on the internet forever?  In the same vein, researching people in 100 years will be much easier, especially with the digitization of historic records.

It’s just something to think about: how to organize your digital life to insure its longevity and retain your unique personality (after all, there are only so many font types in existence, as opposed to individual handwriting.)  And will future researchers use things such as email and blogs and Facebook to discover our lives? I don’t know that it’s something we have addressed yet – what happens to all of the digital records in the future. It could make for interesting research – of convenience, but lacking the character of libraries.

What do you think?