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Quinn Dombrowski's blog

ATS Revisited: I still love my job after 3 years, and you might, too

Almost three years ago, I wrote a blog post about how much I liked my job as an Academic Technology Specialist in Stanford's Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. We had a position open for the same position based out of History, and I hoped to go beyond the weird title and expansive job description to get at what it's actually like to do this job.

Once again, we've got an opening for a History ATS. There's been a few changes to the job description -- including one that impacts my earlier blog post -- but most of what I wrote there still stands. If you're interested in what it looks like to do this job, go read that blog post first, then come back here for a few new details and thoughts.

DLCL ATS round-up, fall 2021

This fall was not at all what I planned. The DH Role-Playing Game class I'd spent 18 months planning for and thinking about only had one student enroll. That bad surprise (which will, in its time, find its way back into a future iteration of the DH RPG guide) was soon followed by the announcement of a major library reorg that moved me and my group into a new AUL-led group, Research Data Services. As part of this process, I was able to arrange for a second dotted-line report back to the Humanities & Area Studies (HAS+) librarian group that I'd informally been joining for meetings on and off during the pandemic. Officially being part of HAS+ has meant invites to more library meetings, but getting that perspective has been eye-opening and I can honestly say it's helped me do my job better. Having a joint position with a department has put me on the periphery of the library, which means a lot of how things work has been a mystery. This includes how things get prioritized for funding; I hadn't appreciated how being both "digital" and "humanities" represent different kinds of power in the library. Particularly as the new Research Data Services unit, which concentrates a lot of the "digital" power, takes form, I've been thinking a lot about how to bring others in and share the power and resources, and be mindful of the labor implications (often for other people) of any grandiose data plans.

DLCL ATS round-up, summer 2021

Summer always disappears too quickly, especially when it involves navigating childcare gaps at various points. I spent almost the whole summer at home, but started to go back to campus regularly after Labor Day. It's been a delight to have an office of my own for the Data-Sitters Club art by Claire Chenette, and the werewolf saint by Miles Smith, even if I haven't figured out how to hang them on the walls just yet.

Existing projects

There was a tremendous amount of content work done on the Global Medieval Sourcebook this summer, creating beautifully-formatted PDFs of each text for download along with the XML. We also worked out some technical details with the project's ingestion into the Stanford Digital Repository and the creation of MODS records for the major text collections. I wrote up the process of going from Drupal to a static Jekyll site, which we'll publish along with the new version of the site. I also spent a lot of time trying and failing to wrangle the elaborate SASS code pile from the site we cloned into something that looked the way the team wanted. Thankfully, I was able to barter my way out of this dilemma: Karin Dalziel fixed everything, and I'll be sewing her something in exchange. We'll be launching the new version of the site this quarter.

Conferencing from Home: ACH 2021 and !!Con

In 2019, I wrote a blog post about the experience of going to the DH conference in Utrecht, followed by the ACH conference in Pittsburgh. Two years later, it's time for another ACH write-up, with a very different point of comparison: !!Con, a tech conference celebrating "the joy, excitement, and surprise of computing". While I've attended and presented at other virtual events this year (including the CSDH-SCHN conference), as co-VP of ACH I was particularly committed to attending as much of that conference as I could, and volunteering as a chair, online respondent, and livetweeter. !!Con was a more serendipitous discovery thanks to a tweet from Scott Weingart. It was the first non-academic conference I've presented at, and while differences in both scale and nature make it hard to compare directly with ACH, there were some aspects of !!Con that may serve as useful provocations for how to run virtual or hybrid academic conferences.

DLCL ATS round-up, spring 2021

Spring quarter gave me the first chance in a long while to take some time off. The first week of the quarter was my kids' spring break, which we spent in a cabin in the woods near Mt. Lassen with just the right amount of internet: enough to quietly keep an eye on email, not enough for Zoom. We've taken some other long weekends, and there's been periods when school has been closed for one or more kids. Nonetheless, here's where things stand at the end of spring quarter.

Existing projects

I've been continuing to refine the static, Jekyll-based site for the Global Medieval Sourcebook, with a few CSS tweaks left to do. I had the opportunity to present what we've done so far with Mae Velloso-Lyons (and Elizabeth Honig, the faculty member behind a Jan Brueghel Catalogue Raisonné I worked on at UC Berkeley) at Stanford's WebCamp in April. This summer, a group of undergrad research assistants at CESTA have been doing a tremendous job adding new material to the old site, which will give me the chance to test how reproducible my data extraction, cleaning, and Jekyll-friendly transformation code actually is. We plan to launch the static version of the site before fall quarter.

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