Thursday, September 15, 2005

How do I keep up?

I got asked this by a student this morning who interviewed me for one of her assignments. We spent two hours together talking about digitizing materials in libraries (and other cultural heritage organizations), corporations and government entities. At the end of the two hours, she asked how I kept up with all of the new information, technologies, etc. related to creating, managing and preserving digital assets.

The answer...
  • I follow around 70 blogs, some of which are related to digitization, digital libraries and copyright. I told her that we all follow and find different pieces of information, so I learn by reading about what has peeked the interest of others. I pointed her towards my Bloglines blogroll to see what blogs and RSS feeds I'm tracking.
  • I belong to a host of discussion lists which I skim for important tidbits. (BTW with all the stuff that crosses by virtual desk each day, the ability to skim well is very important.)
  • I talk to people who are doing different things than me (vendors, project managers, etc.). Just hearing the different points of view is helpful.
  • I research specific areas -- digging deeper into them -- when I'm working on projects or answering a question that someone has asked me.
What I've learned over the years, and in various situations, is that having all the details at hand isn't always necessary. I need to know an awful lot, but sometimes I just need to know where to find the specifics. For example, what are the various TIFF formats and how are they different? I don't know off the top of my head, but I know where to find the information.

So once I find something important, how do I keep track of it?

Keeping track of information in my blog has been helpful and I find myself searching the contents on occasion to find something that I know I've written about. (You can search the blog by going to the blog's homepage and using the search feature at the top of the page.) Some details/resources/ideas have been written into planning documents and so I find myself going back and re-looking at those. Some are noted on a page on my web site that is no longer maintained (Resources for Learning More About Creating and Managing Digital Images).

Keeping up isn't always easy. Sometimes it seems like so much information and so little time. Perhaps it is the challenge that keeps me going.

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