I have been writing this blog ever since I took on History SPOT for the IHR over two years ago. It took me a while to find my feet as I had never created or written a blog before. My remit was to make the blog more interesting than just relaying update reports which would quickly become dull not only to read but also to write.
“What we want is a ‘day in the life’ of a project officer” Jane Winters (head of IHR Publications) told me on my first day. Looking back at my blog posts I don’t think I have ever actually done that. I have discussed research training and the nature of podcasts. I have narrated the highs and lows of live streaming. I have summarised or reviewed numerous IHR podcasts and given the odd project update. But I have never talked about my working day. Perhaps, it is time to do just that. Time to indulge in a little bit of ‘this is what I do’, although I won’t go on for too long I promise.
My working day begins at a railway station – queued up with other commuters in untidy columns approximated to where the train doors will open. My train journey takes about 30 minutes, in which time I often listen to one of our podcasts and take notes. This morning I was listening to a talk about the development of cricket as a sport in France. Yesterday, the subject was ‘Memory’ as a focus for looking at the early modern period. I never know what subject will come up next, which makes the process all the more fun.
After dodging crowds of commuters its coffee time! In the café I will generally write up my blog posts, usually from the recording I was listening to on the train. Then it’s a short walk into the office where I pick up the audio recorders from seminars held the night before. Once at work proper, I check my emails and upload the day’s podcast to History SPOT and add a new blog post to the History SPOT blog. These are daily tasks Monday to Thursday which I tend to do early on so that I can start to work though my tasks list for the rest of the day.
I then upload the audio file from the recorder to my computer and edit the file. This usually consists of chopping off the beginning and end, adjusting the sound levels (as much as possible), and adding metadata to the finished mp3.
For the rest of this morning I worked on the HISTORE project. At the moment I’m working on a short case study about the John Foxe Online project as an example of semantic data. Although John Foxe, and his Acts and Monuments was the focus of my PhD thesis, and despite helping out on some of the text transcription, I had thought next to nothing about what any of this meant in terms of the digital tools employed so this work is proving quite illuminating.
In the afternoon I finished editing one of the Digital History videos – adding images to the video and zooming in and out where appropriate. This is time consuming work but quite relaxing and enjoyable. There is something satisfying about creating a short video.
My next to final task of the day was to continue working on the Online Databases course that we are developing for launch in 2012/13. Mark Merry (its author) provided me with additional text and images this morning so now it’s a matter of uploading this to History SPOT and making it into something that will display nicely. This often involves working with some straightforward html coding and working out in what format the data should be displayed. Again, time consuming work, but quite enjoyable to do once I get into it.
The final task of the day is to set up the audio recorders for tonight’s seminars. This varies. Some nights there won’t be any to record. Today is one such day. As far as the seminars are concerned we are still in the Easter period so groups have temporarily grinded to a halt. Other nights there can be anywhere between one to three events scattered throughout Senate House and Stewart House. This can mean some running around and up and down stairs.
So, in a nut shell, that is roughly a day in the life of the History SPOT Project officer. From tomorrow I’ll get back to posting some more summaries of our podcasts.