January 8, 2001
By Eric Rangus firstname.lastname@example.org
about five feet away from where Kim Braxton was speaking casually with a visitor, a student was having a problem with her digital video file.
And problems are just what Braxton, as coordinator of Emorys Multimedia
Every time this particular student would attempt to import a sound file
to a Macintosh iMovie, the machine would crash. One of Braxtons
student workers was already on the scene, leaning over the Macintosh G4
Cube lending assistance.
Seeing this activity, Braxton offered some advice from her position a
couple arms lengths away.
Try throwing away the preferences; that sometimes works,
she said affably.
Braxton then stepped over to the computer, dragged the preferences file
into the trash and rebooted. Not 30 seconds later, the audio file having
been imported into the iMovie, the haunting sounds of Loreena McKennitts
The Mummers Dance floated out of the computer, accompanying
the movies opening credits.
On a Mac, a lot of information about a piece of software is held
on the preferences file, and they can get corrupted, Braxton said
afterward. In iMovie, there are a couple little bugs. If you throw
the prefs away, sometimes that makes it happy. You might lose a couple
things, but the preferences are rebuilt automatically.
Knowing the ins and outs of new technology is part of Braxtons
job. Take iMovies, for example. When Apple introduced the program last
fall, Braxton had to study it, learn the software, determine its worth,
then make a pitch for new machines to operate it. One week after making
her presentation, two top-of-the-line G4s arrived.
While well-versed in all sorts of multimedia technologiesaudio
and video digitization, digital video editing, web development and video
production, just to name a fewBraxton isnt a typical tech
The Chamblee native graduated from Georgia State with a bachelors
degree in English and a decidedly untechnical minor in British history.
Braxtons move toward multimedia technology and training didnt
occur until she entered the University of Georgia in 1992, where she intended
to pursue a masters in education.
To make ends meet while her husband, Adam, was finishing his undergraduate
degree, Braxton took a job working as a secretary in the school of education.
I was the one helping all the other secretaries use their computers,
and I really enjoyed that, Braxton said.
Eventually, Braxton journeyed to the top floor of the education building,
which is where the department of instructional technology is located.
In 1995, she received her masters in the subject.
Following graduation, Braxton worked three years for Georgias Board
of Regents, helping university faculty and staff use technology in their
classrooms. In December 1998, Braxton, who had moved from Athens to Atlanta
six months earlier, became coordinator of Emorys multimedia center,
located next to the reference desk in Woodruff Library.
The multimedia center supports not only students, but also faculty and
staff with a variety of multimedia toolsfrom simple scanning all
the way up to video editing.
I like to think of myself as a guide, Braxton said about
her job, which she compared to consulting.People come in, and they
know what they want the final product to look likebut they dont
know how to get it. I help them traverse what can be some really rocky
And, since October, shes been doing it by herself. The multimedia
centers workload is heavy enough to require two coordinators, but
longtime center coordinator Jamie Martin left the University three months
ago. That left Braxton on her own for most of fall semester.
My heads still above water, she said. Ive
utilized my staff more, and I think theyve enjoyed that. Theyve
taken to the responsibility with open arms, and its worked out really
With the new year, Braxton has acquired a new co-worker; Jack McKinney
came over from Cox Hall in late December to take Martins place.
In all, Braxton supervises 11 student workers, and she is quick to credit
them as essential parts of the multimedia center.
I have students whose strengths lie in page layout and design,
and I have no experience in that, Braxton said. I try to encourage
customers to trust the students because I fully trust them and their abilities.
I consider them peers or co-workers rather than, Im the boss.
Braxton said she trains students on all the centers technologies,
and she often finds them training faculty members who come in looking
I think this is probably the one place on campus where you find
[that], she said. I try to be very supportive, encouraging
and empowering. We refer to people who come in as customers,
and we try to be very customer-oriented.
By respecting her student workers, Braxton receives respect in return;
graduates ask her to be a reference all the time.
The pay [for students] isnt great, and I try to keep the
workload above answering the phones or other work-study/office-type duties,
Braxton said. The kids learn so much and technology is at every
I tell them that they will probably get more out of working here
than they will out of their Emory education, she said, punctuating
with a laugh.
Since Braxton deals with computers and other gadgetry all day at work,
she rarely touches any at home. Thats not the case, however, with
her 4-year-old daughter, Anna Camille. She loves to come to Mommys
work, Braxton said. Thats an interesting study in and
of itself. In fact, although she only knows letters rather than
full words, Anna Camille inadvertently helps her mom with her job.
Ive watched her go through kid-oriented web sites, and she clicks right through, Braxton said. Thats how I can tell good interface designwhen she can navigate through a website without tripping. When she stops and says, Mommy, I dont know where to go, then I know someone didnt design that website very well.