It isn’t all digital here in Hagey Hall (indeed, given the overtaxed electrical system, if it was the breakers would have blown more than they already have). I actually do quite a bit of reading as I work with web archives, as I try to grapple with the field. A few things:
Some technical books on TCP/IP. A bit of a weird choice, and I think I made one colleague think I was taking networking extension courses or something (probably not a bad idea, actually). But as I do more and more work with web archives, I’ve decided I really need to know how the web and the broader Internet work. What was their history? How did they come to be? How is the information actually transmitted from computer to computer? It gets a bit philosophical, but in this desire to understand what it is we take for granted, I was inspired by Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms.
Many books and reports on digital preservation. I’ve been taking a bit of a crash course in what historians might need to know, from playing with Archivematica, to reading government documents and textbooks, to reading blogs (notably the Library of Congress’s ‘The Signal’), and so forth.
Tucked away, a book on Canadian copyright, one of the banes of my existence.
Looking around though, the rest of my book is a lot of paperwork: three five-plicate travel documents, an author contract, a proposal that I’ve been cooking up with First World War soldier data. Plus lots of old coffee mugs, that probably need to be rinsed and returned to the departmental ‘kitchen’ (i.e. mail room with bar fridge and sink).
Of course, in the other direction, are the goodies: my workstation, and then lots of hard drives. This one below has a few hundred gigabytes of web archives on it (don’t worry, the important stuff is backed up on another drive). While there are better ways to store it, I want to process data with them, so really just love having it on my desk, connected to my computer with a Thunderbolt cable.