Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Where is the Edge?

Where is the Edge? 

A).  Is it a philosophical question?
B).  Is it a metaphysical question? 
C).  Is is a question for your GPS?
D).  All of the Above.

The answer is: D). All of the Above.

We relocated to Prescott, Arizona in November 2014 on about two weeks notice. Then I, Shawn, spent the better part of winter and spring 2015 looking for a job to pay the bills, while also trying to create this upstart consulting business. Along the way, I was fortunate to meet a number of the good people of Prescott due to interviews, volunteer work, and trying to get advice on building a business. There are still people I need to and want to meet, and anticipate 2016 being another year to build upon the social network.

But, you may be asking, Where is the Edge...History Edge, that is? Well, along with finding a job to support the family, the second half of 2015 was spend trying to find a new home. A few years ago, when I was working with the Business Archives Section of the SAA, it was fashionable to talk about reaching your limit of capabilities as exceeding your "bandwidth." A play on computer network infrastructure to be sure, but within that circle it was easily identifiable as the point at which operations cease to function. The implication, therefore, is to operate at a level at which all of your resources are being utilized, without using so much as to cause a crash. 

Case in point, I just went to grab a Coke (not in endorsement, unless...), but a bottle of Guinness (definitely an endorsement) fell out. Of course the cap unsealed so the beer had to be saved, but I also had to clean up a small spill. So, I'm writing this post waiting to have a phone meeting, drinking a Guinness and a Coke. Within a span of 10 minutes, my life has dramatically changed, (sips Guinness) for the better. Any professional understands the dramatic shifts which can occur. Anyone with family understands the dramatic shifts which can occur. Everyone understands the dramatic shifts that occur daily. Modern human resources management likes to use the phrase, "Work, Life Balance" to convey the sensitivity of allowing people to manage their time spent working with the time needed to maintain a healthy home. Effectively maintaining your bandwidth so you don't crash with the smallest of spills.

So, long story short...History Edge has been on an unofficial hiatus. Not that we couldn't have done more, there just wasn't the pressing need to do more. (After all, a fridge full of Guinness isn't going to drink itself). At the same time, there is now the very real physical question of, "Where is the Edge?" Depending our how current your GPS system is, it is either there or nowhere. That is because History Edge has moved to a brand new location, in a brand new area of town. So new, in fact, that we don't even have mail boxes, yet. It is, however, pretty close to paradise! 

In conclusion, we're still here. Maybe not blogging so much, but we're still here and looking forward to the new year.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Security for a Night

On Saturday night (May 16, 2015) I had the pleasure of working as "security" for the Sharlot Hall Museum fundraiser, "An Evening at Sharlot's Place." This event is the touted as one of the premier fundraising events in Northern Arizona. The evening consists of a gourmet dinner, live auction, and a silent auction. Artists and businesses from around the Southwest donate art work, Native American rugs, pottery, jewelry, vacation packages, services, and goods to be auctioned. The art is museum quality by some highly sought after artists, as well as some lesser known, but rising stars. Some of the artists were in attendance.

I had the opportunity to speak with Bill Neely, a woodcarver with an extraordinary talent for carving birds and restoring Katsina dolls. His piece on auction consisted of a 10 quail family set a top a stunning piece of Honduran mahogany. I can report that this piece was one of the most talked about items of the night. Not because of the birds, rather it that singular piece of Honduran mahogany. It was an imperfect, seemingly worm eaten chuck of log, and therein, laid its beauty. We have all seen various forms of driftwood or branch art.  Most of the time, there are only one or two points of real interest on the log, that is if its not serving as a fancy art stand. (I'm assuming, generally, really interesting wood is too fragile or rife with other problems to serve a piece of art.) But, this piece of wood, as told to Neely by his foresters, was not the product of disease, parasite, bugs, or worms, rather it was an "abnormality." Once again, nature providing a deviation with sublime elegance.

It was intriguing to hear from both artists and collectors about their work and collections. And, as I mentioned, I was there serving as one of the security volunteers for the event. In reality, I was there to ensure that the wind didn't blow the artwork away. I haven't attended this particular event before, but, on this night, it was relocated to the Centennial Center at the Antelope Hills Golf Club. The weather around Prescott has been "highly irregular" and with wind and rain expected, the event was moved from its usual outside location at the Sharlot Hall Museum. On this night, the venue was stretched to capacity, making it quite an intimate affair. I was nerve racked by every full wine glass and loosely held hors-d'oeuvre plate. The "art gallery" was outside in couple of tents which left little room for people to maneuver. In the end, nothing happened, but I was stressing half the night.

Ultimately, I made two observations on the night:

  1. Everyone should attend a fundraising auction as either a volunteer or attendee. It was great time to share stories and meet people in the community. This was especially important for me being new to the area. If nothing else, I learned what "stepping-out" in your "best" attire means in Prescott. I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse attire from retro-1880s formal to modern Western formal to Western business casual (suit coat and brand new jeans). Plus, if a man wore a hat, it was one of Western vintage.

  2. While the price of admission can be fairly expensive for a couple, especially when factoring in child care, there are great deals to be had at these events. Sure, some of the art can be expensive, but there were down-right steals to be had in the silent auction. Since I was outside, I don't know if there were reserves, but several quality pieces did not sell, while others went for below retail. If you are interested in starting an art collection, a fundraiser might just be the place to start. Also, if a local artist's pieces are too expensive in the retail market, an auction might be the place to acquire a quality piece hand selected by the artist. 

It was a wonderful night of art and schmoozing. Even as the "security," I was able to meet other volunteers from living history to docents to board members. And, the one of the things that I've learned over the years about schmoozing, if you don't have money, personality, or fancy attire, its to been seen over-and-over again. Just like in your college days, you go to the same bars, the same house parties, the same classes, and before you know it...you have friends. And, for someone completely new to the area, I'm just happy to be seen at this point.



An Evening at Sharlot's Place occurs about May every year. Contact Sharlot Hall Museum for more information about the next event.



Friday, April 17, 2015

Backlog...More Problems, Less Progress

One of the hardest tasks information professionals face is handling backlogs. This can be archival holdings, digital content, administrative files, artifacts, art work, and much, much more. There are many approaches to tackling the backlog problem, and, at least in the archives community, minimum processing standards, such as, Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner's More Product, Less Process (MPLP) have become, if reluctantly, somewhat standard. Their writings, along with other's advocating minimum processing standards, have become mainstays in the archival community. I'm not going to take a time here to discuss the relative merits of MPLP or any other processes. Rather, I'm going to focus this post on just a few observations regarding how to refine the way one views their backlog.


1. Backlog Permanence

The first problem I've noticed is the false belief that the backlog will ever go away. The backlog will never go away. There will always be new items arriving which take priority. Additionally, changes in staff, volunteers, and institutional focus will drive items forward or backward along the importance scale. So, the best strategy is to accept that a backlog will always exist. Conceding this point will enhance the strategic vision on how best to identify items of key value. This goes hand-n-hand with other strategic decisions which need to be made. Effectively, information professions need to become better strategic planners when it come to addressing the backlog problem. In so doing, we can examine items in the backlog with more rational eyes, and less with our natural reverence for the significance of the item.


2. Resource Allocation

Another difficulty that information professionals and organizations often face is the reluctance to allocate resources in a long-term and managed way. Face the facts--there will never be enough money, people, or resources to create the perfect library, archives, heritage center, records system, etc. Better approaches will define the scope of the issue, then determine the amount of resource that will be allocated to the task. In this way, costs can be defined and staff can be focused on tasks. There is nothing more frustrating then open-ended and variable commitments based on management interests and budgetary constraints. While on its face, open-ended commitments may seem okay, if not positive, the nature of open-ended commitments are too often reliant on factors outside organizational, if not, the personal control of anyone person.

One way to examine the issue might be to address backlog issues as a grant. Each item in the backlog has its own unique set of issues. What these issues are, who can handle those issues, and the cost of addressing those issues are always a part of grant applications. Now, you may or may not be able to address the issue (item) with one grant, but a grant lays down time and monetary markers. Reviewing these markers allows for clearer understandings about the extent of the issues at hand, and the costs that will be associated with further addressing the issue. Moreover, creating "boxes" around backlog items will help define importance. If a project is going to cost $10,000, but resources or resource allocators are only willing to provide $5,000, then something else needs to be done. Additionally, you can start to factor in the cost of doing nothing until someone decides that $10,000 is worth spending. Ultimately, if the item isn't worth "processing" and isn't worth "storing" then you can look to the "cost" of deaccessioning, and we all know the significance of deaccessioning.  


3. Focus

We all face difficulties focusing on tasks. In the information fields there are always competing claims on our focus. We are pulled by personal interests, research requests, and resources just to identify a few. A self-inflicted problem we face is treating the backlog as something that must be addressed in the same way, for all time. We don't need to treat the backlog the same way we treat the future. Sometimes its much more efficient and cost-effective to create "clean data breaks"-- effectively making an executive decision to do something new from this point forward, something we didn't do in the past, and that we're not going to spend time on "fixing the data set." Notice the quasi-statistics language here, which is quite intentional. There are always problems with data sets because they are constantly evolving. Your practices should evolve too. And, in most places, practices do evolve.

One problem I have observed is information professionals trying to evolve their past-practices to met new standards rather then just making a "clean break." Accordingly, this develops mental stress with additional, often unnecessary, administrative rectifications which have little benefit but come at a great cost. Simply stated, the cost-benefit analysis does not add up. Sometimes this accompanies issues with basic record-keeping practices. We must remember to keep basic and sound records-keeping practices in mind as we make decisions.

Just because we have 5, 6, 7, or 10 year-old records does not mean; A) We should, and B) We should add them into a new catalog, spreadsheet, or inventory. Here we need to go back to our "Resource Allocation" considerations:
  •  What are the resources required to accomplish the task? 
  • What could those resources being used here be used for if not on this task?
  • What is the legal, fiscal, or historical value of performing this task?
  • What are the chances that: 
    • Are there any liability or legal issues that need to be addressed?
    • We be able to recover any "data?" 
    • Will there be significantly improve access, practices, and/or information to warrant one method over another method in terms of time and cost?  
    • What additional costs will be associated with "recovery" and/or "modernization?"


Conclusion

Information professionals whether in a library, archives, museum, or records capacity face difficult decisions about addressing backlog issues. After all, it is always easier to accept a gift or donation than it is to explain why you might not want someone's prized possession. Additionally, I think, because information professionals understand the power of information, we often tie ourselves in knots trying to rectify the sins of the past. We, however, can only do so much. Focusing on creating fiscally responsible projects will make us better advocates for our collections, more responsible resource allocators, and mentally sound. Your backlog isn't going away--anytime soon--so be good to yourself and examine it with a more cost-benefit focus.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Security and Preparedness in the Age of Disruptions

In the Fall of 2004, I had the great fortune to work as a Graduate Marketing Intern for the University of Wisconsin Press. One of my duties was to create marketing materials for the new title, Business Confronts Terrorism: Risks and Responses by Dean C. Alexander. In this seminal book, Alexander discusses a future world in which businesses of all types must learn to live with the prospect of terrorist attacks. At the time, he was warning about the treat terrorist groups presented to "soft-targets" where security and scrutiny would be low if not non-existent. Simply stated, 9/11 and the treat of Al-Qaeda changed the security and preparedness matrix for all businesses, not just the "usual suspects" like power plants, chemical factories, and financial institutions. Rather, for Alexander, shopping malls, tourist attractions, and the mom-and-pop shops must all be ready to handle the threat of terrorist actions.

To be frank, I thought the book was a bit alarmist at the time and the decade or so following didn't materialize the type of threats which I felt warranted the concerns expressed in the book. To be sure there were some attacks around the globe, but not the volume of attacks that, for me, warranted additional concern. Historically, terror attacks happen to soft-targets on an infrequent, but regular basis. In the end, if you run a small business, the cost-benefit of preparing for the risk of a terrorist attack simply wasn't there.

So, from time-to-time since 2004, I've viewed terrorist attacks or riots or natural disasters and thought, "Maybe Dean was right." But, in so doing, I further reflected that the structural conditions hadn't changed all that much. So, while Alexander had been "right" the need for small businesses to be prepared just wasn't there.

Now, in 2015, I view the structural conditions having undergone a dramatic change.  Recent events in Paris at Charlie Hebdo and Tunis museum attack, and the destruction of cultural heritage sites and artifacts in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan,  along side the structural property damage in Ferguson, Missouri, combined with the aftermaths of major natural disasters and weather related disruptions, I can only conclude that Dean was RIGHT. Having said that, at the same time, his also singular focus on terrorism undercut the real dangers that businesses face from the very society in which they operate and the environmental conditions unique to there geography.

All businesses, both great and small, need to think critically about preparedness, be it from natural disasters or terrorists. There are just too many points of risk. Fundamentally, I believe there has been a structural shift in the nature of terrorism whereby it is acceptable and preferable to target small and soft-targets. When society combines a loosing of moral indignation to soft-target attacks with maximum media coverage the likely result will be more not fewer attacks on soft-targets. And, since we have entered the full-on digital age, cyber-attacks have also emerged as non-violent, but severe disruptions to business operations, financial losses, and consumer confidence. Now, combine those issues further with with occasional local social unrest, and more disruptive weather patterns and businesses really are facing some critical threats.

Now, I'm more optimistic that the terrorist and social threats are short-term, nevertheless, there will always be weather related events that raise some serious issues for businesses, regardless of actual business, to address. Here are some questions businesses should be asking:

1) What are the major external threats to business operations? Where are the most likely areas to produce operational disruptions?

  • Weather or Natural Disaster
  • Social Unrest 
  • Terrorism 
  • Disturbed Individual
  • Disgruntled Employees
  • Illicit Employee Activities


2) How might our location or operations impact our status as a "target?"

  • Are we in a known protest zone?
  • Do we have or work with items of significant social or cultural value?
  • What is our local, national, international, cultural, social, or digital footprint?
  • Who do we serve, and are they likely to be a "target" for terrorism or social unrest? 


3) What might the media reaction be to our businesses being targeted or to major disruptions in our operations?

  • Do we have a media plan?
  • Do we have a plan for collecting and distributing information to the media, law enforcement, our employees, and/or the public?
  • What types of media response might be most likely, Local, State, or National?


4) What is our current security and disaster planning? 

  • Do you have a plans written down that are knowable to all employees or is there just a "intuition" about what would happen?
  • What types of infrastructure is in place to handle business disruptions, regardless of cause?
  • Do you have redundant systems in place?
  • Do you have mitigating systems in place?
  • Do you have defensive or offensive procedures in place? And, does everyone know what these are? And, does everyone understand their role?


5) What is our current training for security and disasters?

  • What are the exceptions of employees and do they understand what is expected?
  • Are there clear chains-of-command, or is there always a known decision-maker at hand?
  • Is there regular "training" or information shared with employees about security threats or disasters?
  • Is there a communication plan for employees?

If your business hasn't discussed these issues, now is the time. These are just some of the most basic questions that any business should consider, and in so doing, will revel where your organization's threats derive. Then, you can start the complex task of planning and budgeting for your response(s). Not all businesses will be able to address every issue, and, not every business will be able to ensure they will be fully protected when disruptions happen. The point is to have the discussion. It's too important, in these troubling times, not to have ideas about to handle the various difficulties that could arise from natural disasters or man-made calamities.

If you want more information, or some help discussing these issues with your organization drop us line. We'd be glad to help you and your organization be better prepared.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Email Retention Policies

The Hilary Clinton email "scandal" has captivated headlines for the past couple of weeks. As side from the political wranglings, email policies are important. Every organization has an obligation to ensure the integrity of  its email communications. Emails are the modern "correspondence" and "memorandums" that are traditionally integral to the historical and decision-making records for an organization. One of the problems that many organizations face is they have delegated much of the authority for email retention to individuals and/or IT departments, without fully understanding the long-term ramifications. The collection and retention of emails is not seen as historically critical process. Far too often organizations merely consider the legal and regulatory compliance aspects of email. Of which, the legal and regulatory compliance issues can be at odds with maintaining quality historical records.

When organizations consider changing email policies, there are just a few of the most critical issues to consider, at the outset (in order of importance as determined by History Edge):



1. Who are the key employees we need to consult regarding email retention?

Understanding who are the key employees to consult is ESSENTIAL to answer every other question that may arise during email retention discussions. Plus, allowing the ability to bring in additional "experts" as needed is critical. Too often organizations merely consult the senior managers and the legal team, but these are not always the best people in your organization to determine policy. Ground-level employees, professionals, and certified individuals may prove to be your best advisers. These individuals provide key insights into how the rank-and-file use email and best practices. Its constantly amazing, disheartening, and alarming to hear stories by fellow archivist, librarians, and technical staff about their organization's utter disregard for their input. As a consequence, its not surprising when those same organizations experience near-catastrophic consequence that send the organization into fits as they struggle to find email and other records. The simple answer for all organizations is: learn your staff, know their expertise, and utilize their knowledge.  



2. What is our organizational capacity or dedication to records retention, or what resources (personnel, finances, and technical) are we willing to dedicate to email retention?

To some extend this is a "chicken-and-egg" issue. Unless you know what you are going to keep, you cannot know what resources will be needed. On the other hand, unless you know what resource your organization is willing to devote you'll just keep throwing resources at unmanageable or unsolvable problems. Starting with a framework of understanding about the budget allocation for the study and yearly expense allocation will help a committee to make both tough decisions and frame their arguments about what should be done and how. Now, this initial allocation should be flexible, but open-ended budgets only result in unrealistic recommendations and the need to make ill advised decisions based on budget constraints.



3. What is our organization's industry, purpose, and mission?

Knowing your organization's industry, purpose, and mission will guide what emails are required by law or regulation, but also allow the organization to understand where they stand in the context of their history, and their role in society. Understanding these items will allow for the identification of emails are critical or essential for retention, important to retain, nice to retain, or not necessary.



4. What are the legal and regulatory issues associated with our organization?

Once you identify where your organization is located within an industry then it should be relatively clear what are the legal and regulatory compliance issues, as these will likely be outlined by statue or legislation. Therefore, at a minimum an organization will be able to determine what resource will be necessary.



5. Who are the major leaders and decision-makers?

Once an organization has identified its legal requirements surrounding email retention then the major leaders and decision-makers can be identified. Not everybody's email is critical to the function of an organization from a historical perspective. Day-to-day operations are another matter, but from a historical or legal perspective most employee emails could fall under a relatively short retention period. Now, additional education and training may be necessary or technical systems may need to be developed in order to execute changes, but far too often a one-size-fits-all policy is adopted by organizations. The problem is senior leaders discussion topics of historical and organizational significance via email. If those individuals do not archive their emails, then those discussions can be lost, all to the detriment of history. Therefore, it is critical to identify individuals of historical significance and provide them with additional tools to retain their emails. Additionally, these leaders may be identified as individuals that will have special requirements, such as using only organizational email, and not personal email, or their emails may have special review requirements prior to destruction.



6. What communication is distributed via email, and who is responsible for retention ?

The types of mail communications distributed via email are another issue to consider. If most internal communications are distributed via email then your digital footprint will grow exponentially, if you keep everyone's email. This is not a good thing. When you add the extraneous emails about lunches, fundraisers, links to web pages, etc., the email situation can get out-of-hand quickly. Identifying senders of record and/or emails of records are critical to reducing the overall IT burden of email retention. Moreover, if you have a daily newsletter distributed via email, but do not have or want to dedicate resources to retaining this newsletter then an organization will have a better understanding of the resources necessary to maintain the email system.



These are just a few of the initial steps in helping to coordinate and define an organization's email retention policy. One point that cannot be underestimated is the interconnected nature of email and organizational records. If you don't have your email house in order, then now is a great time to start. Its is far better to have policies and understandings in place then to react to the media or judicial system.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Losing the Internet and disaster preparedness

If you live in northern Arizona, yesterday, February 25, 2015, we lost cell phone service and internet connectivity for much of the afternoon (approximately from 12:15 pm -5:45 pm for most people). Losing a key component of business operations can be very stressing and concerning. Often times, we do not know why things like these happen, more concerning however is, we do not know how long they will last. While we all feel the anxiety, we must look to these events as training exercises.


Image from Prescott, Arizona Facebook page, posted by Wendy Quinlan, February 25, 2015.


It is inevitable that something disastrous will happen. It might be an inconvenience like losing the power or internet for a few hours; or it could be a major incident like a flood, fire, or inclement weather which impacts operations for days, weeks, or a few months; or it could be a devastating event like earthquakes, tornadoes, or war which hinder operations for several months to years. Events like losing internet connectivity are especially ripe for testing your disaster preparedness. There are key items to consider, many of which are covered in disaster preparedness manuals. And, by the way, if you do not have one--you should. I'm not going to expound the items you can control about your business operations, rather I'm going to encourage you to examine the things you cannot control.

For example, you can have back-up systems, alternative projects, and disaster recovery experts at the ready, all controllable. But what about your workers? Have you taken a look at them in a "disaster" situation? If not, you might want to consider it. 

There are several key questions to ask, but they all boil down to this simple one --

"How are workers responding to this situation?"  

Are they responding well? 
Are they relying on rumors? 
Are they communicating honestly and effectively? 
Conversely, are you communicating honestly and effectively?
Where are the nodes of information?
Who are the natural communicators?
And, do your workers trust your communications?

With everything that happens in a disaster event, the interpersonal element is often overlooked. More critically, when "minor" events happen, often organizations ignore or misinterpret interpersonal interactions. These "minor" events offer a chance to observe how workers respond. Are there employees, some you might not expect, taking charge? Are there employees that communicate especially well in this situation? Are there employees that incite tension? Are there employees that people trust more than communications from leaders? Who is performing above their call of duty?

Observing some of these elements can help organizations better respond to future situations. Organizations should look to bringing in the "calmest" and most "trusted" employees, regardless of position or title, into the planning and preparation phases and committees. These individuals may just be able to ease tensions and facilitate communication. Just because a person has an important title does not always mean they have the emotional or interpersonal skills to handle disasters. They may be very good at their job...just not that job. Conversely, a relatively low-ranking employee may be "cool-as-a-cucumber" in the most stressful circumstances. More importantly, they may have an intrinsic or historical relationship with other employees that leads them to inherently trust that individual's words and actions. 

I think we inherently understand the "chain-of-command" and I believe we like to adhere to that philosophy whenever possible. It makes logical sense. But, when logic intersects with chaos, natural leaders emerge. They may not be able to run your business on a day-to-day basis. They may not have ambition beyond their desk. But, when bad things happen, they just may be the best asset you have in our organization.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

History Edge, it's not just about us!

As this company and website continues along the "soft-launch" process, I'm designing the site to serve two purposes. First, be a front page for information about History Edge, and what services History Edge can provide. Second, be a launching pad for information about archives, museums, records management, and libraries.

The first task is straight-forward in that I would like you to learn about History Edge. And, in so doing learn how we can help you with your information needs. This is the primary task.

The second is far more complicated and delicate, because there will be criticism leveled for attaching some links while omitting others. Nevertheless, I'm going to use this site to direct users to articles and sites that inform and educate about the goings on in the information professions. As suggested in the title, "It's not just about us!"

We all have questions about what is happening in the archives, museum, and library fields. We hope to become a partial aggregator for organizations, publications, and blogs.

So kick back surf and find something interesting.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Arizona Archives Summit, 2015

I had the great fortune to attend the Arizona Archives Summit, 2015 last week in Tempe at the Tempe History Museum.

As a new information professional in the state, it proved to be a tremendous opportunity to meet other archivists, librarians, and museum people in Arizona. I was reassured that the same problems are out here in the West as there are back East, just some of the subjects are different.

The wide ranges of topics kept the summit moving and required everyone to think about new interactions from session to session. While I'll admit to becoming disinterested at some of these types of conferences, I was engaged throughout. This may very well be due to the fact that I was learning more about Arizona's archives culture, but the speakers were by and large entertaining and informative.

I was glad to met professionals from around the state, but more importantly it proved to be an exciting event that I would look forward to attending again.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Starting Up Ain't Easy!

Being in the information fields (university, library, archives, research, and information technology) for nearly 15 years, and seeing the difficulties associated with those fields, in terms of job prospects and security, one thing is clear -- the need for freedom.

I was able to secure an archivist position prior to the 2009 economic crisis, but that didn't spare me from the economic hardships of the recession. I learned during this time that there is a real need for information professionals to be independent, or at the very least retain a independence that allows them degrees of freedom. Specifically, information professionals need to be able to pursuit other opportunities outside of a "day job." And, in some cases, this could very well save their day job!

The ability to act as a consultant, and therefore, to contract for different work hours, establish project duration, benefit packages, pay structures, all have the potential to convince stakeholders of the importance of providing access to their information. This is by-far not a perfect solution, but faced with potential layoffs, indefinite part-time status, less than professional working conditions or respect; being a contracted consultant can be an appealing and potentially optimal option.

In the fall of 2014, I had the fortune to be able to relocate to Prescott, Arizona from Madison, Wisconsin (at the onset of winter no less). Seeing this opportunity to invest in change, I finally decided to follow the American Dream and become my own boss. The problem with being the boss of a start-up is ... starting-up!

Crazy as it sounds, there is a lot of work to be done -- deciding your scope and mission, creating a catchy name, filing legal papers, reserving domain names, reserving social media names, creating business cards, setting-up financial arrangement, and so much more. There was also the consideration of launching before the Arizona Archives Summit, on January 22nd and 23rd.

While I'd like everything to be perfect out of the box, I was fortunate enough to work for a trade association that grew from an idea over the last 100 years. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are a friend, a family member, or potential client with their own start-up problem. And, nothing will every be as perfect as you would like.

The point is to get started! 

Make a commitment to getting your information house in-order! 

We are not alone. Lao-tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher tell us, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." But, we all know Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption said it best, "Get busy living or get busy dying."

You have information that is dying or at least wilting on the vine! (Thanks to Lora Bray for this gem of an idea!)

History. Records. Archives. Artifacts. Photographs. Web Sites. Social Media. Whatever it is you need help with, we are here to help get you started!

It's time to let your information live! It's time to let your information be useful!

Over the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully, years, I'll be using this platform to inform and educate. I hope you will follow me on this journey! And, if you find you need more concentrated help, I'll be here...we'll be here!

History Edge is about taking the next step! 

It's about growing from where you are to where you want to be. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you!


Shawn San Roman, CA - Founder/Consultant

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