So it says on the front page of this site that, as well as being a writer, I’m also a GLAMR-slash-Information Governance professional. Because a girl’s got to pay the bills somehow and I happen to be a weird sort who gets off on the intricacies of managing and organising information. Look, someone’s got to do it. If phrases like “records management” make your eyes glaze over, just be glad there are freaks like me out there who are more than willing to head unto that breach for you.
Wait – do I need to explain the GLAMR thing? Like, nobody would bother continue to read a post that uses that acronym in the second sentence if they weren’t already interested in the field and therefore already knew what it meant, right?
Hmmm. Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Records. Just in case you’re not actually in the know.
Actually, like much about me, my career is just a little left-of-centre of this, with a big focus on data, information & knowledge management, and not so much Museums or Galleries. So it’s kind of ILARKDM. Or something. Look, acronyms, like metaphors, should never be examined too closely. They’ll only end up disappointing you.
Because I was a bookish type growing up (bet that comes as a surprise, huh?), libraries seemed a good choice back when I was studying and choosing future career paths. So graduate degree library school it was. While there I also did a dual stream in records and archives, because it never hurts to diversify the skills a bit, and I’m one of nature’s jack-of-all-trades, really. (Which is a nicer way of saying I get bored easily and like to jump about into new things.)
So armed with all these new library skills, I came out of library school and went straight into…
Look, it was the late 90s. Knowledge Management was just what we did then. Along with studying postmodernism, listening to Grunge and wearing Doc Martens. (Or was that just me? I’m still wearing Docs, by the way.) Anyway, there I was, building a network of databases, highlighting subject matter experts, sharing knowledge, creating communities of practice, and working in a field defined by the latest management buzzword. Seriously, Harvard Business Review did a whole book on it, that’s how management-speak it was.
Shift forward twenty years and now I’m heading up large-scale Digital Transformation projects. Yes, I’m still at the buzzword zeitgeist.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my career and I don’t stay in a job if I don’t believe its creating something of value or doing meaningful work. I’ve travelled from KM to Business Research and Analysis, through Information Management, through Archives and Records, to Research Data Management and now into Digital Transformation and Information Governance. I’ve even actually been a true-blue Librarian for a few years there, doing reference desk shifts and all.
(On which note, I’d like to apologise to everyone to whom I ever gave APA6 style referencing advice. Seriously, I was just as bamboozled as you.)
Still, valid jobs and meaningful work aside, there is no escaping the fact that, without meaning to, my entire career is really a string of management buzzwords. I mean, even when I was running an unambiguous, journals-and-books special library, my job title was “Knowledge Management Officer”. True story. And did you all catch that recent Digital Transformation episode of Utopia? You should, it’s hilarious, and I couldn’t stop laughing. All the while thinking, oh gods, but I’m *that* guy, aren’t I? I’m the one the sharp corporate satire is making fun of.
And I’m totally cool with it.
You see, despite all the fun and games, there’s something at the heart of what I do which I happen to believe is of genuine importance in this day and age.
We live in an era where buzzwords are used seriously by the powerful, and I’m not just talking bollocksy management speak that calls a Librarian a Knowledge Management Officer. I’m talking phrases like “fake news”, “alternative facts” and a whole string of disingenuous phrases that equate to outright science denial. So in an era like this one, the importance of having a solid, reliable, verifiable, authentic, reviewed and referenced information base is more important than ever.
Information Governance, records management, information management, digital information transformation, data management, it’s the concepts coming out of these fields that grapple with what to keep and how to keep it, how to ensure the sheer, provable validity of evidentiary records. You want to worry about world leaders with private email servers, go talk to your records managers, your information governance leaders, for solutions. You’re concerned about the meaning of large datasets and how to secure, access, or ensure their privacy, while also maximising the value for the public good. Go talk to your data managers, your digital information specialists, your information management people.
Information has both value and risk. Those working in Information Governance understand both and weigh up value against risk and advise accordingly.
So I never mind if someone’s eyes glaze over when I say “records management”, or if they snort when I say “digital transformation projects” or just look confused and blank when I say “knowledge management”, or maybe even respond with “is that still even a thing?” Because beyond the buzzwords, there’s actual stuff going on and some of it is essential to being able to keep the powerful to account.
Anyway, this is what I do when I’m not writing. It pays better than words. And it’s almost as fun.
But not quite.