5 Questions with Archive-It 5.0 Web Developer James Kafader

December 18th, 2014

Meet the person behind the magic! It’s James Kafader, lead web application developer for Archive-It 5.0!



James was not able to make it to the Archive-It Partner Meeting this year, but we still want you to get to know a new VIP here at Archive-It. So in our usual style, we interviewed him!

1. What were you working on before you started at the Internet Archive? What project are you most proud of?

Two of my favorite projects were GrantPartner, a custom grantmaking software system I developed while working with the Leakey Foundation, as well as Canvas, a GUI website building tool I built while working on one of my startup projects. In general, I really like working on software that simplifies workflow.

2. Why is web archiving important to you?

What we do is so broad and affects so many things. First, freedom of information is very important to a healthy society (or even an unhealthy one), and the most ephemeral information can in many cases be the most critical. Second, this is the first time in human history that we’ve been able to encode information on such a small scale, which allows us to save and pass along so much more about who we ourselves are: the sounds, sights and thoughts of our time.

3. What web content are you most interested in saving for future generations?

Again, a big question. In terms of fun, I’m a big fan of the archive’s work with JSMESS. I love old software and emulators and stretching javascript to or past its limit. But what I think I’m most interested in saving is information that sheds light on events that bear on inequity in society. Our recent crawls on events such as the riots in Ferguson, MO are a great example of this, particularly as it seems like our society seems more and more bent on sweeping events like this under the rug every day.

4. What are you most excited about developing for Archive-It 5.0?

A nice API, I think. With really great and fine-grained access to your data we can help users to do even more. And a user experience that transcends utility into something that might actually be enjoyable to use.

5. We hear you are very involved in the coffee world in San Francisco! Tell us more!

I’ve just opened a specialty bakery and coffee roastery, Hearth, on 17th and Castro with my wife. We serve in-house baked organic pastries, beer, wine and small plates. We’ve been roasting coffee for years — we used to run Brown Owl Coffee in the Parkside. Our menu is focused not only on deliciousness but also on social responsibility: we source all organic ingredients from small local, national and international producers and growers.

[Interviewer note: The Almond Croissants at Hearth are outrageously yummy.]

6. BONUS QUESTION: What do you do for fun?

When I’m not working I like to fly for fun. I am currently working on my pilot’s license with the Alameda Flying Club.