Finding your dream job in grunt work

Aug. 31st, 2016 05:00 pm
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Posted by Slack

A craft beer brewer discovers his future in the graveyard shift

This is the second story in our Night Shift series about working in a different rhythm.

Illustrations by Matt Huynh

It’s 11pm on a Tuesday night. The bartenders at Parallel 49 Brewing — a popular craft beer brewery in Vancouver, B.C. — are closing up the taps as the last remaining stragglers settle their tabs.

I’m told to ask for Chris Derpak, one of two graveyard cellarmen on shift, better known by friends and compatriots as “Derp”.

The bartender leads me through the tasting room, down some steps and past the back entrance to the brewery. The air is perfumed with the musty smell of malt and hops, the cement floor is riddled with puddles. I stand in a corner waiting for Derpak. I lament my choice of footwear.

The work of a graveyard cellarman

Out of the corner of my eye I spot a flash of yellow—Derpak’s oversized gum boots—skidding between narrow rows of stainless steel tanks. He tries to maintain his footing while deftly maneuvering a 50-foot long, 100-pound hose filled with sanitizer.

“I’d say about 75% of my job is cleaning, honestly,” he explains as he motions over to some whiteboards displaying a complex schedule of the many brews in the hopper — everything from the final batches of summer grapefruit radlers to the first batches of the brewery’s fall and winter offerings (which, naturally, includes a pumpkin-flavored lager).

Timing is crucial for the cellarman, who acts like an assistant chef to the brewer. Not quite a sous chef, mind you, Derpak isn’t involved in recipe development just yet, but he does manage the brewing process.

With the schedule as his guide, he adheres to it strictly to see when to add dry hops to tanks, pitch yeast, and skim yeasting off the top of tanks before filtering beers in the centrifuge and sending them across the alley to the warehouse for canning (or bottling) and packaging.

“I’m basically just a grunt who follows the recipe and makes sure the beer is making it through the process in the right order,” he continues all too humbly.

Trading office work for handiwork

Despite belonging to a family of pencil pushers—Derpak’s father is a retired teacher, his older brothers are accountants, and his youngest brother is now also a teacher—he knew after two attempts at university that, unlike his family members, a desk job wasn’t for him.

“Only one of my buddies is a tradesperson, like me,” says Derpak jovially. “He’s the only one who really works for a living, or at least that’s the way I like to put it.”

After several stints in warehouse jobs and a loathsome clerical job at a packaging plant, Derpak noticed a sudden surge in local craft beer breweries and started applying for every job he could.

“I didn’t have any experience or any real qualifications for the job,” Derpak confesses, “so I started in packaging because of the warehouse work I did when I was younger. I made myself as useful as I could. I’m a forklift trainer, so I can certify people on forklifts. But when an opening for a brewer on the graveyard shift came up, I figured the only way in would be to take that shift, so I went for it.”

A night owl finds his calling

Derpak describes himself as a night owl, though he had to do some finagling to get used to working odd hours.

“I was trying to stay up and do stuff in the morning when I got off work then sleep right until my next shift, but waking up at 10:30pm when it’s dark out weirded me out,” he says of the early days.

Though some may think that the next step up for a graveyard cellarman is a daytime shift, Derpak confesses he had the opportunity to take over afternoon shifts, but he turned it down. “The hardest thing to adjust to working nights was figuring out when I was going to see my girlfriend,” he muses.

“I play hockey during the week in the evenings, or some nights my girlfriend and I will run errands and tidy up,” says Derpak, “the only difference is when everyone else goes to bed, I go to work.”

Crafting a vision for the future

It’s a slow night, brewing-wise, so Derpak takes me on a tour.

Standing in the warehouse, he points through three large man-made archways connecting the interiors of several buildings. Over the years, the brewery has taken over most of the block to house its brewing, storage, and bottling facilities.

“I like to compare this place to a rocket ship,” Derpak muses. “You have to hold on for dear life, take every opportunity that comes your way. It goes by so fast.”

I leave the affable “Derp” at close to 1:30am. He consults the board again. The next batch won’t be ready to hit the centrifuge until 3am. Come seven or eight, he’ll pick up a six-pack of the brewery’s signature Gypsy Tears ale before stopping quickly to take in some sunshine on his walk home.

“I’m proud of the job I have, and I really like that,” he says. Still, he looks forward to switching gears and someday opening his own brew pub. “My brothers are all waiting for the day I open my own place,” Derpak continues, “so they can quit their jobs and come work with me.”

Lima Al-Azzeh’s favorite Parallel 49 beers are Tricycle Grapefruit Radler, Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale and Toques of Hazard IPA.

Finding your dream job in grunt work was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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Posted by usnationalarchives

This post comes from Kerri Young at Historypin, our partners in the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences.

Watching Motion Picture Preservation staff hard at work restoring a film from RG-111, the primary record group containing a series of WWI films that we’re utilizing for this project.

Watching Motion Picture Preservation staff hard at work restoring a film from RG-111, the primary record group containing a series of WWI films that we’re utilizing for this project.

In our last post, we took a look at how we built our evaluation framework for the Wartime Films project, including coming up with audience-focused outcomes that we wanted to see as a result of engagement. The next step was to create a product that will meet the needs of our target audiences while helping us achieve as many desired outcomes as possible.

Carol Swain from NARA’s Special Media Records Division, Motion Picture Branch showing the Historypin team research aids for the newly digitized WWI films at NARA’s Research Room in College Park, MD.

Carol Swain from NARA’s Special Media Records Division, Motion Picture Branch showing the Historypin team research aids for the newly digitized WWI films at NARA’s Research Room in College Park, MD.

Of course, the heart of this project is hundreds of wartime moving images and about 100,000 photographs being expertly preserved and digitized by NARA curators, many never-before-seen. In light of the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the US entering World War I in 2017, we can tie into renewed interest in the conflict and local and national efforts focused on the centenary.

The first step of our product design required us to assess what products and tools might address the existing needs of our target audiences. When we thought about teachers and museums in particular, we considered the proliferation of digitally accessible primary sources, the challenge of discoverability, and the availability of textbooks and guides for studying WWI. We began to imagine a product that could not only bring NARA’s WWI content to light in a dynamic and tactile way, but also to create a tool that could help to enable real exchange, where teachers and local museums could help to shape the product we create.

A close-up of some of the research aids we looked at, including film shot-lists and accession cards, which helped give us a better understanding of the breadth of subject material covered in NARA’s WWI films.

A close-up of some of the research aids we looked at, including film shot-lists and accession cards, which helped give us a better understanding of the breadth of subject material covered in NARA’s WWI films.

With WWI as our focus, our priority was to gather collections together in a way that would enable people to tell stories. Teachers and museums place significant importance on understanding historical documents, constructing theses, and finding documents to help explain those theses. Understanding this helped us to start identifying goals for an application that would speak to both these target audiences and the ways in which they want to engage with the records.

Starting to sketch out early designs of what the app might do, based upon our increasing understanding of the WWI content we are working with.

Starting to sketch out early designs of what the app might do, based upon our increasing understanding of the WWI content we are working with.

At the same time, we also wanted to try and enrich the collections themselves. We thought there might be an opportunity for tagging photos and segmenting moving images, with the goal of recontextualizing the WWI content through a local lens and highlighting often underrepresented narratives. Our aim is to develop an app that allows communities to easily interact with these primary source records and use them to tell their own local stories.

In our next post, we will talk about our user-design process for the app, and how representatives from our audience groups are helping us make the key connections between content and users.

September 2016

Aug. 29th, 2016 06:56 pm
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Our Summer Reading Program is over, and our patrons are getting ready to head back to school in a few days—some have already started, even! So, of course, it’s time to take a look at what titles are headed our way in September.
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Posted by Daniel Cornwall

The unanimous 9th Circuit ruling on Tuesday was issued by a three-judge panel, two of whom are Republican appointees with a history of pro-law enforcement opinions.

The U.S. Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute federal marijuana cases if the defendants comply with state guidelines that permit the drug’s sale for medical purposes, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

via Court: Feds Cannot Prosecute Medical Marijuana In States Where Legal | PopularResistance.Org

To me, this is a welcome victory for local control and sensible drug policy.

Filed under: current events

The Making of Women’s Equality Day

Aug. 26th, 2016 05:18 pm
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Posted by usnationalarchives

Today’s post was written by Christine Blackerby, Education and Public Outreach Specialist in the Center for Legislative Archives.

Wisonsin Ratification of the 19th Admendment, June 11, 1919 (page 1 of 3)

Wisconsin Ratification of the 19th Amendment, June 11, 1919 (pg 1 of 3)

Today is Women’s Equality Day, which marks the date in 1920 when the 19th Amendment providing for women’s suffrage was declared to be ratified and therefore part of the U.S. Constitution. The drive for women’s voting rights had started in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. By the time the amendment was certified on August 26, 1920, it had taken 72 years to realize the goal.

However, many women saw suffrage as just one step for women’s rights. There was much more to be done to ensure that women would be equal to men. Three years later, in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was introduced in Congress for the first time. Congressman Daniel Anthony, Susan B. Anthony’s nephew, submitted the joint resolution in the House of Representatives, starting a debate that continues to this day. Introduced in Congress more times than any other amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment would have provided for legal gender equality if it had been ratified by the states.

Anthony’s amendment failed, as did over 1,100 more attempts. The issue continued to gain support though, and in the 1970s Congress held hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment. Many citizens wrote to Congress to express their support or opposition. One supporter was Liz Carpenter, who warned, “Don’t be fooled by the bugaboos raised by the Amendment’s opponents. Women will gladly trade protective laws for some equal pay and equal rights.” But Congress also heard from women like Mrs. Thomas Zeko, who said, “The mal-contents, lesbians and Communists of women’s lib main purpose seems to be to downgrade the marvelous vocation of mother-homemaker.”

Photograph of Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Posters on the Back of a Station Wagon, NARA ID 7452296

Photograph of Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Posters on the Back of a Station Wagon, NARA ID 7452296

The ERA passed Congress in 1972 by a two-thirds vote, as required by Article V of the Constitution. However, amendments must also be ratified by three quarters of the states, and the ERA was just three states short of the 38 ratifications needed. As the seven-year time limit for ratification approached in 1979, Congress and President Jimmy Carter controversially extended the deadline three years. However, no additional states ratified. In 1982, the amendment failed.

The National Archives Museum exhibit “Amending America” features these documents and many other stories about constitutional amendments. All of the documents from the exhibit are available in NARA’s online Catalog as well as in an eBook available as a free download in the iTunes store.

The 1,100 proposals for the ERA are part of the list of more than 11,000 constitutional amendments that have been introduced in Congress. As part of the “Amending America” initiative, the National Archives digitized the list of amendments, and made it available for free download on

National Archives Women's Affinity Group logoWe’ll soon be adding new channels for sharing these stories online. The National Archives Women’s Affinity Group (WAG) will introduce  a new Twitter account and Tumblr blog to explore  the history of American women  and promote the documents which tell their stories. Follow @USNatArchives on Twitter and US National Archives on Facebook for information on the launch.  


Gunrunners Make the Best Empresses

Aug. 26th, 2016 04:10 pm
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Hail isn’t your average princess. For one thing, she ran away from home at the age of 18, leaving behind her home, family, and Empress mother, leader of the Indranan Empire, in order to hunt down her father’s murderer. For the next 20 years, Hail works hard for a living and for her freedom—she gets really good at gunrunning, and becomes captain of her own spaceship and crew. All of that hard work, however, comes to a screeching halt when two Trackers come to find Hail and bring her back home, bearing terrible news: her sisters have all been murdered, her mother is deeply ill, and Hail is now the heir to the Indranan throne.

Funny Business

Aug. 26th, 2016 06:38 am
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I wrote this time last year(ish) about the debut picture book from comics artist Kate Beaton. It was called The Princess and the Pony (I wrote about it here)—it was named a Kirkus Best Book of 2015, and my goodness, it was funny. (Well, it still is. If you go find a copy on bookstore or library shelves, you’ll see what I mean.)
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Posted by Slack

How one startup is helping employees combat stigmas around stress

Jordan Menashy, co-founder and VP of marketing at Bench — a bookkeeping service based in Vancouver, BC — isn’t shy to talk about the ups and downs of startups. “It’s hard not to associate the company’s success or failures with my own feelings of self-worth,” he says, “But I feel like anyone who‘s ever cared about the work they do feels that way. It’s a shared history.”

Evidence of this shared history first appeared at Bench during a program called the “Coaching Network”: a small group of people within the company, lead by Learning and Development Manager Denea Campbell, that team members could reach out to for support. “We realized that most people were using that time to discuss personal hurdles that impeded their ability to focus on their work.” says Campbell.

Together with Director of People Operations Sarah Blackmore and an internal team of volunteers (a committee of people from across the company) formed to discuss how they would begin broaching this morass of a topic. The result is a robust, 26-page indexed Mental Health Guide for Bench employees.

Making the mental health guide

Embracing vulnerability in the workplace is reportedly key to employee and organizational success, but what steps can you take to create a work environment where people actually feel safe disclosing their worries and fears to managers and leaders?

“Reflecting on the triggers that cause breakdowns to happen, as a group, helped us have safe and non-stigmatized discussions about mental wellness,” says Blackmore. “Even before the guide was released, we started to introduce the topic of mental wellness at a team-by-team level. I think that approachability and openness as a company, right from the start, really set our approach apart.”

Sarah Blackmore

The guide covers everything from how workplace stressors can affect you (spoiler: burnout) to a list of resources for self-care (exercise, meditation apps) and treatment options (local counseling services).

The guide also offers tangible and practical advice for handling day-to-day stresses, things like keeping an empathy log as a way of processing challenging work relationships or acknowledging feelings around being undervalued. “Often, we don’t bother taking the time to analyze [our emotions] beyond our in-the-moment reactions,” it says in the guide. “If you get home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and worried, how do you know what caused that feeling?”

A true team venture, the guide also features personal stories about coping with stress and anxiety, including contributions from the company’s founders.

“The point of the guide wasn’t to dictate: ‘These are the steps you must follow to avoid stress’,” says Blackmore. “It was more about sharing a range of perspectives and practices for how different people at the company have overcome whatever issues they were facing.”

Supporting the whole person at work

As they’ve scaled, the company has seen more opportunities to do things that welcome the whole person at work. For Bench, this means implementing flexible policies and programs that support employees in making use of the information provided in the guide.

For example, a sizable “Wellness Fund” offers each employee an opportunity to invest in the physical or mental wellness program of their choice, whether they choose to spend that money on new gear for their mountain bike or investing in a yoga retreat. Employees can even use these funds towards services, like professional counseling, that may only be partially covered by their extended benefits package.

Perhaps most importantly, recognizing that every employee’s motivations and inspirations are different, team members are encouraged to work with their managers and teams to make use of personal days, even if that means approving a team member’s request for a 6 week “workcation.”

“I lost myself for a while, creatively and personally,” says Sr. Product Designer Kyle Thacker in a post on the Bench blog. “I let small moments consume and define my thoughts. My perspective narrowed. I decided to make some changes in my life. One of those was to broaden my perspective through travel. The goal wasn’t to travel for the sake of traveling. I had specific personal goals and perspectives I was searching for.”

Being able to integrate his work responsibilities while pursuing his personal goals helped Thacker find renewed vigor towards his work, something he especially needed after two years on the job.

A successful mental health guide informs and inspires

“Your quality of mental health affects how you move through the world — how you think and act in your daily life, and how you affect the people around you,” says one section of the guide.

“When a Benchmate faces challenges, they should always be able to expect the support of their peers.”

Aphorisms like these appear throughout the guide, and while Menashy recognizes how idealistic (even eye-roll inducing) statements like these sound, he believes they serve an essential purpose.

Jordan Menashy

“It speaks to our worldview as a company, which is something we see as separate from culture,” he says. “The distinction I see is that while culture defines your values, it can still be quite insular, whereas your worldview speaks to the impact that you want to have externally. It’s a set of ideals that define our attitude about behaviors that we admire and ones we don’t.”

“People talk about the tragedy of the commons, but I like to think about the triumph of the commons, as in: How can we create an environment where people can be better together?”
Denea Campbell

What’s next

Speaking to this philosophy, in June 2016 the team decided to release the guide publicly as a resource for their customers and businesses at large. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they’re in the process of formalizing an advocate committee responsible for updating the information in the guide. Advocates will also serve as ambassadors to teams and sub-communities within the organization so the message never gets lost.

“I want people to know that mental health is a good thing to talk about at work and that sharing your struggles does not mean you’re failing,” says Learning and Development Manager Denea Campbell, “it’s actually a sign of strength.”

Lima Al-Azzeh de-stresses through writing, snacking, and occasionally punching heavy things at the gym.

Taking mental health discussions off the bench at work was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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Posted by MaryKing

This post and strategy were written by Jeannie Chen, Mary King, and Hilary Parkinson, with contributions by Dana Allen-Greil.

In six years, you can get a lot done! If you are the International Space Station, you could have orbited the earth 35,040 times. If you are Apple, you could have released 10 new iPhones. If you are the National Archives, you have gone from zero social media accounts to over 100!

It’s been six years since NARA’s first social strategy was released. Things have changed in the digital universe, and so we’ve been working on a reboot of our social media strategy.

Animated gif image excerpted from “Right on the Button.” From the series: Motion Picture Films, ca. 1960 - ca. 1970. Records of the Internal Revenue Service, 1791 - 2006.

Image from @TodaysDocument Tumblr. NAID11900.

In 2010, we introduced our first social media strategy to continue our commitment to open government and to empower staff to use social media. Now our digital presence reaches hundreds of millions of people. More than 200 National Archives staff contribute to 130 social media accounts on 14 different platforms, generating over 250 million views in 2015.

Access and transparency are at the core of our work. With the explosion of digital devices and platforms, we can share our documents and our mission with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

To tackle these new needs and to keep us current for our audiences and stakeholders, we have come up with this new plan. We met with staff and asked them about their goals and needs for social media–and we asked staff what challenges they faced when using social media. We also researched social strategies of other influential institutions, we analyzed our social media and web data, and we read up on best practices. We led lightning sessions to get feedback and suggestions from other galleries, museums, archives, and libraries. Now, we need to hear from you!

Your feedback is needed to make this strategy the best it can be and we want to hear what you think. We see this as a living document, so we’ve published the strategy on GitHub, a collaborative development web platform.

Take a look at the National Archives Social Media Strategy and leave a comment below. Or, send an email to and let us know what you think. Please be sure to add your comments by September 16 so we can include your feedback in our plan!


Aug. 25th, 2016 06:43 am
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My friends, I have been miserably sick for over 36 hours now, and there’s no end in sight. As I see myself logging a lot of Bed Time in the near future, let’s take a look at some books that star characters who’re convalescing from one thing or another:

What’s your sidebar personality?

Aug. 24th, 2016 05:02 pm
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Posted by Slack

Three people with three ways of managing Slack

Illustration by Pete Ryan

There is no single way to use Slack. Every team will be organized differently, but it’s also flexible enough that any one person may use it in a drastically different way from their own co-workers.

At Slack, we have about 1,900 public channels that any employee can read. Which channels people join and how they navigate the rest is up to each employee, and no two sidebars look alike. But how do you decide what works best for you?

It starts with the sidebar visibility setting in Slack’s desktop/web app preferences; it can show every channel you belong to, or optionally only show unreads. You can customize this view to best fit your working style, based on your own tolerance for unread messages, communication priorities, or aesthetic preferences.

For this edition of Office Hours, we look at three people in different positions here at Slack and how their sidebar personalities reflect and affect their work.

The Minimalist

Andre Torrez, engineer
“I missed more stuff when I followed too many channels and didn’t end up reading them. Now, I never miss a vital thing in my starred items.”

Andre Torrez works on the engineering team at Slack, on a few key aspects of the product. That focus in his work translates into his Slack app experience, which is all about minimalism.

Andre’s sidebar setting

Andre hides everything by default, only showing his unread and starred channels (starred channels were a recent addition). He’s very selective in which channels he joins. For most hours of the workday his sidebar is blank, only showing half a dozen starred channels. Perhaps it’s a natural offshoot of a task-based engineering job — where bugs are fixed and features built line by line — but Andre’s experience reflects one where distractions are kept to a minimum, so he can retain focus to do his best work.

When he starts work each morning, his unread channel count is probably a couple dozen long, and after a few minutes of catching up, he gets it back to zero and gets on with work, spent mostly in text editors.

As the day ends, he typically gets the unread list back to zero as well before clocking off for the evening. He rarely checks in on mobile, or after hours.

The Mute-ophile

Rob Campbell, CE manager
“Honestly I’m not a big sidebar user. I’m a jumper.”

Rob Campbell is a Customer Experience manager at Slack, splitting his time between solving the thorniest technical problems customers face and managing a handful of others in different areas of support. Those wide-ranging responsibilities mean Rob is a member of several hundred channels, related to all aspects of the product.

Rob’s sidebar setting

Rob was the first person I noticed that liberally used the mute function. For many channels of automated output, he might only need to check them once a day, so they get muted, which grays them out on his sidebar, even when there’s unread activity. He sporadically checks bug reporting channels when he spots problems users can’t fix on their own, but he doesn’t need to monitor those after reporting so he mutes them as well.

Overall, when I look at Rob’s sidebar, he has about 50 or 60 starred channels at the top he checks throughout the day, then a list below with several hundred channels, about half of which are muted. Rob says he doesn’t feel overwhelmed, because aside from checking the starred channels at the top, he generally ignores the sidebar for navigation, instead opting to use the Quickswitcher to jump anywhere he needs instantly via his keyboard.

As for missing anything from all those muted channels? Rob asks coworkers to always at-mention him by name so he’ll be sure to see it.

The Clutterhead

Lima Al-Azzeh, writer
“It’s just ‘Here’s the stuff I know I always need to have an eye on.’ Then everything else was ‘It’s there, and I have comfort knowing it’s there, and I can pop in when I like.’”

Lima Al-Azzeh works on the editorial team at Slack, which means she reads marketing, PR, and announcement channels as well as channels related to product development, customer stories, and customer support. As a writer, you never know where your next story might come from, so she tends to drop into all sorts of channels and rarely leaves.

Lima’s sidebar setting

Lima’s approach is to follow about 30–40 starred items most important to her at the top of the sidebar. These are channels related to the editorial team, channels for short-term projects, as well as direct messages with employees she talks to most often.

Like Rob and Andre, she focuses on everything in this starred list, trying to keep everything in those read, and only sporadically breezing through the list of a couple hundred channels below, many of which are unread. Unread channels might make some people nervous, but for others it’s no big deal.

The differences between users reflect not only how each employee interacts in an organization based on their specific job, but also how each person deals with FOMO. Some people are most effective when they look at only the most specific things vital to their job, while others need a broader view but are ok silently ignoring hundreds of channels until they’re needed. Still others are comfortable with a bit of chaos as they carve out a way of keeping up on the most pressing items in their stream.

Slack is used in thousands of different industries, and how each person manages their sidebar means even employees in the same department can have different experiences in the product. As you get more comfortable using Slack, there are oodles of settings in preferences worth exploring.

Try tweaking some today to see if a more customized Slack app better meets your personal needs.

Matt Haughey is a clutterhead like Lima, but after writing this has learned to leave channels like Andre and mute channels like Rob.

What’s your sidebar personality? was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Read the responses to this story on Medium.

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Posted by usnationalarchives

This post comes from Kerri Young at Historypin, our partners in the Wartime Films engagement project, and is part of a series outlining how NARA is using design thinking to reach new and existing audiences.

Last month we looked at how research and analysis have helped us narrow our focus on particular audiences and a subset of relevant content. Today we’ll take a look at how we built our evaluation framework for the project.

Having narrowed our target audiences for the Wartime Films project and settled on WWI-focused content for our engagement efforts, we began to really concentrate on our goals for the pilot. Unlike a traditional publicity campaign seeking media responses, or a management document to commit to deliverables, we’re seeking particular outcomes for the target audiences, as well as ways to measure the impact of our engagement. Outcomes focus on social transformation, and are defined as changes in the behaviour, relationships, activities, or actions of the people, groups, and organizations with whom a program works directly.

Working with Historypin’s research and evaluation team at Shift, we decided on the formula of actors + actions = intended outcome to shape our goals. Recognizing that we’re part of a much larger ecosystem of cultural heritage organizations encouraging discovery and reuse of our national treasures, we focused the formula on answering two key questions : what did we want to see happen in the project, and how could we measure our specific impact in the space through this particular pilot?

Screenshot of chart showing aims (the change we want to bring)

Brainstorming initial goals for our teachers target group.

Using a widely-adapted, user-centered approach to planning called Outcome Mapping, we’re able to focus on social transformation, particularly how it pertains to the public discovery and creative reuse of primary source materials. For us, the desired “big picture” change is broken down into a series of multiple outcomes that multiple actors can work towards. To build our outcome mapping framework, we first pinpointed not only NARA’s wider goals for access and reuse in the project overall, but for each of our target audiences individually: teachers, local museums, and coders/digital humanists. The audience analysis we carried out in the beginning of the project was key in helping to define these goals, and placing them in the framework helped us organize the actions and results we were hoping to see.

Screenshot of outcomes chart (change we want to see)

Some outcomes for our museums target group.

We narrowed down the most important aims for each group and created a spreadsheet to organize our intended outcomes, the activities that can help us reach those outcomes, and methods to measure how effective the actions have been. The outcomes we settled upon for each group focused on issues of awareness, access, and community, each connected to larger organizational goals for NARA (see the National Archives 2014-2018 Strategic Plan).

The next steps of this process involved coming up with initial activities- such as teacher workshops and publishing raw metadata for coders- that can be logically linked to our outcomes. We then created measurements for these activities, which can be anything from surveys and interviews to observations like social media hits, teachers blogging, etc.

By approaching the Wartime Films evaluation from a social research perspective, the key outcomes and ways of measuring those outcomes are aimed at seeing an increase in social engagement. While the activities and measurements for those activities might change over the course of the project, having this framework in place allows us to ensure our overall goals stay consistent.

DPUB IG Telco, 2016-08-22: Use cases

Aug. 22nd, 2016 04:38 pm
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Posted by Ivan Herman

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions.

Note that, for holiday/vacation reasons the next two meetings will be cancelled.

Use Case Documents update

Section on horizontals

That section is almost ready. The agreement is that the various use cases should get an extra label on which horizontal area(s) they refer to. A simple security related use case will also be added, though a separate top level section on security will also be created.

Distribution and sharing section

The old content underwent a radical edit to align it with the rest of the document. More about on email (the editor of that section was not able to join the call).


The old section 6 was merged and only one section created. Few use cases were moved into the ‘fundamentals’ (2.1.5, 2.1.6, and also 2.1.13). It was agreed that a more thorough definition of “states” should be added to the section as an introduction, and maybe an explicit reference to the fundamental use cases that are relevant to this area. Also, because this is a fairly technical stuff, it is better if this section moves to a later position in the overall document.


There are now five different areas in the section. The question is really whether there is a need (or not) on a use case on Braille; is it really different on PWP than on the Web in general? This led to a more general discussion: what are the reason that accessibility gets more emphasis in the publication world than elsewhere, and could that be succinctly described in this document? That is still left open for now.


A few annotation related issues/use cases have been added. Otherwise there was no real progress the past week.

Editing timeline, schedule

The goal is to have a FPWD published for the document before TPAC. The following schedule has been agreed on:

  1. There is a (temporary) feature freeze on the document on the 31st of August. It is important to have the security section and the updated introduction “in” (and anything else that can improve things)
  2. Nick Ruffilo goes through the document on the 1st and 2nd as an overall editorial round in unifying style, terms, etc
  3. Heather takes hold of the document on the 5th of September to finalize an overall editorial round again on style, terms, etc.
  4. Ivan takes hold of the document on the 12th and gets it through the W3C publishing process.

A final version of the document would then be published after TPAC, probably beginning of October.

What Lies Beneath

Aug. 22nd, 2016 03:41 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
The books didn’t help me find a word for myself; my father refused to accept the weight of it. And so I made my own.

Trade: The wrong conversation

Aug. 22nd, 2016 02:50 pm
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

While I have problems with the Trans Pacific Partnership, particularly in the areas of intellectual property and the ability of transnational business panels to override national law, I really feel we’re not having the right conversation on trade.

Attacking any particular multilateral trade deal not only allows proponents to label opponents as “anti-trade” and “isolationists,” it distracts us from what I think is the real conversation we ought to be having on how we write trade deals to begin with.

No one really wants to stop trade. The vast majority of people understand that we live in an interdependent world. No one country has everything it needs for modern life. But how that trade is conducted is important and how trade deals are created is even more so.

In a working economy, the legitimate interests of businesses, workers and consumers are all equally respected. In a capitalist economy you need all three groups to remain healthy or the economy collapses. As a result, in a working economy all three groups should have representation in writing economic rules.

In trade deals, this seldom happens. Whether it’s NAFTA, TPP or some other trade deal, national governments invite industry representatives to meet in secret to hammer out rules that are presented as all or nothing votes to national legislatures. As a result, these deals are usually great for business, occasionally good for consumers but almost never satisfactory for workers in any but the lowest wage countries.

In our discussions on trade, we should agree that trade is a reality, but we should insist on representation for labor groups and the non-profit sector – cultural organization institutions and consumer groups. Potential rules should be weighed for their effects on businesses, workers and consumers at large. And they should be written in public and available for continuous public comment.

This will be a longer process than letting industry write the rules in secret. But the economy belongs to all of us and a more open process will ensure greater buy in for the deals that do ultimately pass. Let’s pass that message on to our elected representatives and hold them accountable for it.


Filed under: politics, Uncategorized Tagged: trade, working economy

Five Votes: Why Voting Matters

Aug. 19th, 2016 10:26 pm
[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Last Tuesday we had a primary election in Alaska that demonstrated why it is important to get out and vote in EVERY election. On August 16, 2016, only 15.4% of Alaska’s 515,714 registered voters went to the polls. The election resulted in seven incumbents being ousted out of the Legislature. I leave it to others to debate whether this was a good or bad thing. What I’d like to talk about today is just how close some of the elections were.

  • In House District 38, Representative Bob Herron lost his seat by 260 votes in a race with substantially better turnout (21.7%) than the state average (15.4%).
  • In Senate District D, Representative Lynn Gattis lost her race for Senate by 148 votes in a race with 12.2% turnout.
  • In House District 9, Representative Jim Colver lost his seat by 95 votes in a race with 17.1% turnout.
  • In House District 40, Representative Ben Nageak lost his seat by just FIVE votes (765-760) in a race with 16.8% turnout.

In each of these races, the winning primary challenger will be the new legislator because the other party did not have a primary in that district. The primary election was the general election in these cases and around 80% of voters missed their opportunity to weigh in. A relative handful of voters in any of these races might have changed the outcome.

Extremely light turnout and lack of party competition at the primary level are not unique to Alaska and these factors are having federal effects. As David Wasserman of Five Thirty Eight puts it:

Primaries have become the new general elections — The Cook Political Report currently rates just 37 of 435 House seats as competitive this fall, less than 9 percent of the House. As a result, primary elections have become tantamount to general elections in the vast majority of seats. Because primaries are held on many different dates, they tend to generate less national attention and attract disproportionate shares of hardcore, ideological party activists to the polls.

In 2014, only 14.6 percent of eligible voters participated in congressional primaries — a record low, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. That means a tiny fraction of voters who are the most hardened partisans are essentially electing more than 90 percent of members of Congress. And these low-turnout primaries are often easy prey for ideological interest groups who demand purity.

In Alaska’s most recent election, news media has noted that both major political parties targeted a few of their own incumbents this time around, with mixed results.

This might all sound depressing to you. It did sound depressing to me at first. But we don’t have to accept things as they are. We can make the primary electorate bigger. We can work to put more candidates on the ballot, either in a primary or for a different party. And here in Alaska, we can vote knowing that until we can persuade more of our friends and family to vote, our votes will have outsized influence.

Get off the sidelines this November. Vote. Then keep voting and take your registered friends to the polls in EVERY election. Don’t let another legislator or ballot issue get decided by a handful of votes.

Not sure how to register or vote? Check out this video:


2016 Primary Election Report (Alaska Division of Elections) –

Voter Registration by Party and Precinct (Alaska Division of Elections)  –

Seven incumbents out of Legislature after low-turnout primary by Lisa Demer and Zaz Hollander, Alaska Dispatch News,  8/17/2016 –

The Political Process Isn’t Rigged — It Has Much Bigger Problems by David Wasserman, Five Thirty Eight –


Filed under: civics
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by davidferriero

This week I had an opportunity to address the World Library and Information Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) on the work we have been doing here at the National Archives in support of the Administration’s Open Government Initiative.  Thirty two hundred librarians, archivists, and other information professionals from 145 countries traveled to Columbus, Ohio for this week-long conversation on the themes of Connections, Collaboration, and Community.

IFLA World Congress 2016

I chose to share our experience in implementing the President’s Open Government Directive in the creation of three, soon to be four, agency Open Government Plans and how that work has contributed to the creation of the United States National Action Plan which is shared with the International Open Government Partnership.  It is the story of how a small agency can not only contribute, but lead in fulfilling the vision of open government’s three principles:  transparency, participation, and collaboration.

But it was more than an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments, it was an offer to work with the attendees who are members of the International Open Government Partnership to ensure that their voices are heard in the development of their country’s plans.  More importantly, it was a challenge to those who are not already members to influence their own government about the Partnership’s work and the commitments articulated in the Open Government Declaration.

You can read the entire address here. I ended with:  “We share a common mission—connecting people with the information they need to improve their lives.  Let’s work together to make that happen and make this a better world.”

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