Monday, November 16, 2009

How man cubits in a paperback?

I understand that undertaking a project like deciding to do in-house conversions to e-text and audio files is not a task to be taken lightly, and that it's necessary to establish a system and do it in a deliberate way. I understand that making such a shift in how we do things is a big change and requires thinking differently about our jobs and how we do things. I understand that taking on a task is not a small thing (despite how underwhelmed the headmaster seemed to be when I told him what I was working on). I understand that the technological hurdles can seem daunting.

But there's a point at which talking about how you're going to approach a task has to turn into action; sometimes the only way you can figure out how to do something is to just go ahead and do it.

Today, I turned a paperback book into a series of mp3 files.

It wasn't exactly seamless. I spent quite a while scanning (and a bit more time re-scanning). Getting Kurzweil to recognize the mp3 encoder was a longer process than one might have liked it to be (and I am indebted to the amazing IT department for making that happen). Organizing the files, determining a structure for the saved files, deciding which file formats to save the book as for optimal accessibility (.kes, .rtf, and .mp3, for the record), figuring out how to get these files to students before they leave campus (a still-unfinished project, but should be taken care of tomorrow morning)—all of this took time, and all decisions are the result of previous training and discussion. Completing this project would not have been possible without all of the conversations leading up to it.

I have been up a long time. I spent entirely too much time staring at a computer screen today, often squinting in either concentration or confusion. My level of exhaustion could best be described as "skull-crushing."

I am not the type of person who does things for the recognition. Generally speaking, I'd much rather not draw attention to myself; I am happy to do my job and let the results speak for themselves.

But today, I turned a paperback book into a series of mp3 files.

And that's pretty fucking cool.