Monday, September 08, 2008

The Self-Interview

In Conversation with Myself

DKEMPER: Hi, Dave. How are you today?

Dave: I’m doing okay.

DKEMPER: Doesn’t it feel strange that you are interviewing yourself?

Dave: It doesn’t feel strange at all. Not at all. And, I don’t mind you interviewing me, or should I say me interviewing me. Anyway, I think it’s great. Let’s go, let’s see where this takes us. Go ahead.

DKEMPER: What have you been doing lately?

Dave: Since returning home from Washington, I’ve been keeping myself busy. I’m taking a few night classes at a local university in hopes of completing a certificate in Multimedia. I’ve already completed several courses already—I’ve been working on this certificate since 2003, taking courses on Photoshop, In Design, and Illustrator in addition to web and graphic design theory courses. I’ve also been busy with The DIGITAL Archive, trying my best to write daily. I haven’t been so successful on that front, I must admit. Blogging is tough, man, especially if you don’t want to hack out mumbo-jumbo. [Pauses] Besides all that, I am looking for work [Laughs].

DKEMPER: Speaking of work, you had an interesting year last year, right. Tell us about it.

Dave: Yeah, what a year! As you know (well, you should know, you were there with me), I lived and worked in Washington, DC on contract with the International Monetary Fund in its Archives unit.

DKEMPER: Wow! The International Monetary Fund! Isn’t that like two blocks from the White House? That’s pretty awesome!

Dave: I know…but I’m humble about it, really. I’m still this guy from a small ‘burb in Montreal.

DKEMPER: Who just so happened to have worked in Washington! So what did you do there?

Dave: I was hired as an Archives Records Officer, but on my business card, it read Digital Archivist. I was responsible for evaluating and selecting a new archives management system—a complete processing and web search software package—and for establishing a digitization workflow for a large-scale imaging project to scan historical IMF country files. Furthermore, I wrote procedures, quality control steps, things like that. I also wrote several reports and even corporate communication stuff that senior admin read and approved.

DKEMPER: Not so archivist in nature, eh?

Dave: I think I am part of the changing nature of archival work. As technology evolves and mixes with the profession, we’ll be seeing new and very different professional roles for archivists.

DKEMPER: Like what?

Dave: I suspect the changes will revolve around access—accommodating better access to archives material.

DKEMPER: Explain?

Dave: Meh, let me save that for another blog post [Grins].

DKEMPER: Good idea, if I do say so myself. So, let me get this clear: you finished the contract—it was a contractual position, right? You had a chance to stay on for another year, correct? What happened? Didn’t like Washington?

Dave: There’s been a fair bit of confusion over the whole thing. Let me explain. First off, the position was contractual, yes, and I was part of a larger, long-term processing project. I worked on the technical and systems portion of the project. Not processing. In that year I accomplished much. We selected a software package, scheduled training, and I was there to see an early install of the software. I was indeed offered a contract extension, but I declined.


Dave: I underwent a profound transformation in Washington. I started feeling an increasing desire to switch directions in life, in general, and away from Archives in particular. In Washington—by the way, an unexpectedly vibrant city rich in American history, a city where American social, cultural, political, and military history has coalesced—I believe I reached a peak, a zenith, if you will, and I knew I needed to change. I was grateful for the offer to work in Washington at the IMF. [Leans in close] By the way, the world still has a few decent managers, thankfully. But at the same time I knew I had to change and declined the contract extension. I wrapped up as much as I could before I left, and I believe I left the Archives, and the IMF by association, in better shape.

DKEMPER: Any regrets?

Dave: No, none. Like I said, being in Washington, being surrounded by the history I had read about in history books during my university days, filled me with something I had not experienced before. I discovered something about myself and about the world. And I learned something that I now cherish more than ever, it’s a simple word Americans are fond of saying but perhaps have lost its true meaning through overuse.

DKEMPER: What word is that?

Dave: Freedom.

DKEMPER: Freedom?

Dave: Yes, freedom. Freedom is one of the most amazing things we have. We have the freedom to choose, freedom to live our lives as we want, freedom to make our decisions, even though we know we may end up failing or succeeding. We are free. Whether blessed by God, if you believe, or promoted by the State, freedom is wonderful; however, freedom is not free, as they saying goes. Freedom has a price. We pay a lot for it. As kids we pay for it by standing up to a bully and still getting shoved into a locker. But we pay the price because we want freedom. As adults, as citizens, we must remain free in life, love, vocation, or whatever. In everything we need freedom, and we must remain vigilant, steadfast, and prepared to fight for freedom.

DKEMPER: Getting political here? Are you voting Obama or McCain?

Dave: First, I cannot vote in the US because I am not American. I have my political opinions, however. Let’s leave it at. But I do believe this is an important election in which Americans need a leader with vision more than a president. Know what I mean?

DKEMPER: Okay, moving along now. What are you listening to nowadays?

Dave: You mean music? [Nods] Yeah, I’ve been listening to SomaFM, an ambient music Internet station. Cool sounds, man. Glad Oasis is releasing a new CD, same goes for The Verve. Been also listening to classical music and jazz. Nice and relaxing.

DKEMPER: Classical? Jazz? You turning soft on me?

Dave: Hey, I balance things out with a daily dose of Foo Fighters and 30 Seconds to Mars. So there!

DKEMPER: Recently, you wrote a long blog post on “Why I blog.” Wasn’t that a little narcissistic?

Dave: No, I don’t think so at all. At least I hope no one took it that way. I just wanted to be honest with my readers, some of whom have been reading The DIGITAL Archive since day one. I wanted to tell that The DIGITAL Archive is no longer the same “archives and archivist” blog as it was when I started, because its author is no longer the same archivist as he used to be. As I concluded in Part 3, I am more an archivist advocate, believing in the value of institutional archives and wondering how technology can transform the field and profession, than an archivist processing materials or debating the latest controversies.

DKEMPER: You mentioned before that you are changing directions. Isn’t that a difficult task?

Dave: It is hard! It’s easier said than done. Believe me. It elicits both excitement and sheer terror. But, alas, and you are not going to believe this, but I was received Zen tweet a second ago that said, and I quote: "Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." Confucius


Dave: Yes.

DKEMPER: Summer’s almost over. Saw any good summer blockbuster?

Dave: Watched Iron Man and loved it.

DKEMPER: Saw anything else? Wally-E or Dark Knight?

Dave: No, unfortunately, not. Just Iron Man.

DKEMPER: You need to get out more often, young man!

Dave: I know, I know. Listen can we wrap this up soon?

DKEMPER: How is the job search coming along?

Dave: You had to save the toughest for the last, eh.

DKEMPER: That’s my job.

Dave: I’ll give you the sound bite version. It’s moving ahead but slowly. More slowly than I had expected. But that is life. Full of the unexpected. Transitioning from one career into another is difficult. It requires risk-taking on both sides; the employee and employer need to take a risk. I hope to find such an employer soon.

DKEMPER: No offense, Dave, but that is about as much deep thinking I can handle for one interview. Let’s eat.

Dave: Sure. What do you want?

DKEMPER: Don’t ask me that!

[This blog post was inspired by Stephen King's recent blog post.]


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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.