Meet Paul Stokes

Meet Paul Stokes

This month we interviewed Paul Stokes, who has been acting Chair of the OPF board for the last three months:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your rolePaul Stokes

I work for Jisc[1], the NREN[2] in the UK, in the Digital Resources division. My job title is Product Manager, but that says very little about my actual role. What I do is a little bit of everything (I describe myself as a specialist generalist). My particular niche is in the Open Research team where I’m responsible for all things preservation oriented, in particular Jisc’s Preservation service.

How did you get here? What was your path into digital preservation?

Believe it or not, I pre-date “digital” (I know. I don’t look it). Back in the day I caught the hording bug from my mother, keeping all sorts of “interesting and useful” things. These days, however, I’m pleased to report that I have managed to modify that behaviour. Now it’s more curation (which, of course, involves disposing of things) than hording—though my wife still refers to me as a digital kleptomaniac.

My path into the digital part of preservation started with hardware (I still have the first computer I built) swiftly followed by storage media and then bits and bytes. My more mainstream digital preservation leanings matured through my involvement with the 4C project[3]—I’m still proud of the fact that we were rated as “Excellent” and that the project outputs are still in use today, many years after the end of the project.

After that I never looked back.

What are you working on at the moment?

My day job provides me a with a wide-ranging remit. Apart from taking care of the Preservation service at Jisc, I also have the opportunity to explore aspects of policy and innovation around the many themes that come to light up when you turn over the rock that is digital preservation. In particular, I tend to bang on about costs and business cases, the carbon costs of curation, and the finite storage crises that’s looming just over the horizon.

Right now, I’m working on specifying new preservation related services.

What do you see as the main benefit of OPF membership?

Like OPF, Jisc is a membership organisation (albeit a little larger). An increasing number of our members are currently (or soon will be) direct or indirect users of OPF resources (as are we). Being a member allows us to collate their needs and interests and bring them to the table.

Who are you / what do you like to do in your free time?

I have two children (a teenager and a tweenager). Free time is (almost) a thing of the past. No time to sail. No time to make jewellery. [sigh]. However, when I get the chance, I cook, make and listen to music, make furniture, garden… …and under pressure from my wife obsessively sort out my digital assets.

[2] National research and education network 

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