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Tech Institute Seeks Summer 2018 RA for Work on Digital Preservation
Open to Georgetown Law students or other Georgetown students pursuing a graduate degree in a relevant field

Georgetown's Institute for Technology Law & Policy is looking for a student research assistant who will work with the Institute’s leadership and internet founder Vint Cerf on policy proposals relating to digital preservation.

The issue

“Digital preservation” refers to techniques to preserve digital records of our past, present and future. Our society faces a growing technical challenge: data and records are at risk because they are recorded in specific file formats that may no longer be accessible or interoperable as technology evolves. Did you ever save files on floppy disks as a kid? What if you needed to open them now: are the disks readable, and do the programs you created the files in still exist? How do we ensure that the mass of digital information we now create every day will be accessible in future? This problem threatens personal information, corporate information, and government records alike.

For years, Vint Cerf and other leaders have highlighted the threat of a “digital dark age” as we lose access to records because of outmoded technologies. This project will work to develop a slate of practicable policy solutions – such as model legislation and proposed governance documents – in an effort to begin addressing aspects of the threat.

Job description

The Summer Research Fellow will work full time over the summer to conduct research, meet with relevant experts and government staff, produce written materials, and perform other tasks as required. The student will work out of the Tech Institute’s office alongside our other fellows, and will be supervised by Alexandra Givens, the Institute’s Executive Director, Michelle Wu, Professor and Law Librarian, and Leah Prescott, Associate Law Librarian for Digital Initiatives. The student will meet with Vint Cerf and his team to share ideas and get feedback on proposals, and will also meet with other stakeholders and experts as required.

Tasks may include, but are not limited to:

  • researching and familiarizing yourself with the existing literature on strategies to promote digital preservation;
  • meeting with relevant experts and government staff (agency and Congressional) to get feedback on policy recommendations;
  • producing written recommendations, based on research and meetings, such as model legislation or proposed governance documents;
  • writing blog posts and other articles to raise greater awareness of this issue;
  • meeting with civil society groups to share awareness and improve focus on this topic; and
  • other research or organizational/administrative duties as required.

This is a paid position. The RA is expected to work 40 hours per week, for a period of 10 weeks over the summer. There may be an opportunity to extend this work into the fall.

Prior experience with questions of digital preservation is not required; experience or interest in policy-making is recommended. Much of the work will involve self-guided research and thought development, so initiative is a must.

Application

Applicants should submit a single PDF, saved as “LastName_FirstName_DP_Application”, to TechInstitute@law.georgetown.edu, containing: (i) a cover letter, (ii) resume, (iii) the name and email address of two references (including at least one Georgetown reference), and (iv) a writing sample.

Deadline

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through April 13, 2018. We encourage you to apply early.

If you have questions, please contact TechInstitute@law.georgetown.edu.