Student Kent Conrad Plans to Use Technology Skills in Film Archiving

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Student Kent Conrad plans to use knowledge from his San José State University School of Information courses on database management and emerging technologies as he works toward a career in film archiving. His fall 2010 experience in INFO 287 Seminar in Information Science: iPad Implications and Applications helped expand his skills in web development and information management.

“I first read about the class on Professor Linda Main’s blog,” Conrad said. “I’m a technophile, and I was really looking forward to seeing how the iPad can be used for application development and the display of information.”

As Conrad did not own an iPad during the class, he used the iPad emulator software available to web developers. He explored ways to present online information sources in different formats, such as a mobile application or e-book. The course, taught by iSchool lecturers Dr. Jeremy Kemp and Steve Sloan, focused on building functionality using Javascript while changing the design of the original website as little as possible.

An experienced web designer, Conrad took information from the pop culture website he runs with a friend and created an interface that works with a small touch-screen device like an iPhone. “Creating links that appear as buttons for each section or feature makes it a more useful and more organic experience on the device,” Conrad explained.

Conrad’s other INFO 287 project was to design an e-book using the ePub file format that’s standard across many e-readers like the Nook or the Sony Reader. “I have a Kindle, which I love but which isn’t compatible with the ePub format,” Conrad said. He wrote documentation on how to convert an ePub file into a format that can be read on the Kindle, using open source software.

E-book development also interested Conrad because of its creative application. He recently published two mystery novels and a short-story collection as e-books, using the knowledge he learned in the course.

A passion for creative writing originally led Conrad to study at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema and Television, where he earned a BA in Film Production in 2001. After graduating he worked on sub-titles and closed captioning for several post-production companies in LA, eventually developing a film database as the department manager.

“I was also in charge of organizing and preserving materials in the tape room,” Conrad said. “When I was looking for a master’s degree that would help me move forward in the field, I wanted something that related to film archives.”

Conrad decided to earn an MLIS and chose SJSU School of Information for its focus on distance learning. He enrolled in spring 2010 and selected courses involving archives, web design, and technology.

Conrad anticipates graduating in spring 2012 and is looking forward to exploring a career path in managing film data and film production histories.