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An interview with TJ Taylor-James, AtoM Maintainer

TJ joined Artefactual in January 2023, working on the Maintainers team with a focus on AtoM. Recently relocated to Montreal, they enjoy reading books, spending time in nature and creating art with friends.

You’re new to the company. What drew you to Artefactual and the Maintainers position?

What drew me to Artefactual was mostly how much our values just aligned. My values just aligned perfectly with Artefactual, so I was just like “Oh, this is really cool.” As for the Maintainers, the idea of a maintainer was a new concept to me. Although it’s not a new thing in general, it’s a new name for something that’s been a thing for other products, but I’ve learned that Artefactual didn’t really have that for AtoM and Archivematica. This is actually my first professional position in web development and I saw this as a really good opportunity to learn with a team where my values are very much in alignment.

What are the biggest challenges you foresee for the team?

Honestly, I feel like our challenge is a challenge that the whole company has to go through. Because it’s a new team, we have to restructure the whole company around how we have this new Maintainers role. I feel like, if anything, it’s a challenge for other teams outside of Maintainers that work with AtoM and Archivematica – like the Support team has to adjust a bit. For the most part, at least from my side, it’s really just adapting to the whole culture of working at Artefactual, and for everyone else it’s like, oh, we have to adapt to the new Artefactual.

That’s a really good point – in the past, we’re used to having everyone working on one project or the other, and there was never a dedicated team for all of the maintenance work. It was always just trying to do that off the sides of our desks while also doing client projects.

In the long run, we’ll all just adapt to it. But we need to integrate this new practice of the maintainers.

What excites you about the future for Archivematica/AtoM?

I’m interested in how much we can develop in the future to have better compatibility between AtoM and Archivematica. I haven’t really done anything with Archivematica yet but I’m very interested in learning about it. For AtoM, I think we’re making some developments so that we can have more community interaction. Right now our issues are logged outside of Github, so one of our projects is to migrate the issues to Github so that it’s more visible to people. We’ll have a lot more community support through that. I think with this team we can bring some hope for the AtoM community as well. There’s a lot of potential, though I don’t have a grasp on it yet!

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

This is the one I actually have to think about. This is the hardest, for the past few months I’ve just been super focused on my work.

I really enjoy cooking – that’s something I’ve really learned a lot about. I made a tiramisu on Monday and, like, I don’t have too many friends in Montreal right now but I need to share this with people or I’m going to eat this whole thing. Before I moved I had this weird tiramisu addiction, but it was kind of expensive, not going to lie. But the thing is, it’s so easy to make! Ladyfingers, coffee, mascarpone, heavy cream, sugar – I think that’s it, it’s like five ingredients, why is it so expensive, I don’t understand!

And it’s the kind of thing where if you let it sit, it gets better! So there’s no reason it should cost like ten dollars for a piece of tiramisu.

That’s why I like cooking a lot. I can make so much good food, but I don’t really have many people to share with, but I have a lot to share.

You’ll find people to share it with. Just be like, “I have food for you!” and they’ll be like, “Oh, this person is amazing!”

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