What is Personal Digital Archiving?

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What is Personal Digital Archiving?

If your first question is what is Personal Digital Archiving, I can help.

You are your family’s personal digital archivist, preserving family papers and photographs and records and the digital scans and downloads of these records.

And the next question is: what would happen to all of your genealogy research in a stressful situation (floods, fires, earthquakes, robbery, hard drive failure, you name it). Not sure? Here’s a quiz courtesy of Tess Webre, an intern with NDIIPP at the Library of Congress, originally posted in The Signal, the Library of Congress’ digital preservation blog.

Does your personal digital archiving strategy need a makeover?

A. When was the last time you updated your storage media?

  1. Justin Bieber was still in diapers.
  2. The Artist formerly known as Prince was still known as Prince
  3. I updated it when I heard Gangnam Style this Summer.
  4. The first Mötley Crüe reunion tour.

B.  What kind of annotation do you have on your files?

  1. I never metadata I didn’t like
  2. My files are like minimalist art, bare
  3. Dublincore? More like DublinSNORE
  4. Sometimes, I remember to annotate with xml, but mostly I’m emailing my ex.

C.  Oh no! You dropped your phone! What about all of your text messages, contacts and other files?

  1. Gone forever.
  2. I might have some files backed up by my service provider, but I don’t know how many….
  3. I backed up my files a few times, but don’t know if I can still access all of the files
  4. I’ve been up to date on my backups and know exactly what I lost.

D.  You have just completed a project for work, but realize that you’ve saved it in a proprietary file format.

  1. Carpe diem, (Latin for YOLO). I don’t have time to convert it.
  2. I’ve made sure to convert it in an open format so that I can access it later.
  3. I know that I will have access to the software in the future. No need to worry.
  4. The proprietary format will lose a lot of its original format if I convert it, maybe it won’t be such a big deal.

E.  Finish the sentence: “My digital legacy …”

  1. Is secure, as I have created a clear plan as to what I want done with my digital files, accounts, etc. for my future heirs.
  2. Is far in the future, I’ve determined that it’s way too early to be worrying about it.
  3. Is completely uncoordinated. I don’t have anything worth passing on to the future.
  4. Is secure. I’ve given the gist of it to friends and family, but don’t need to write anything down.

F.  It’s 10 pm, do you know where all your files are?

  1. Yes, they are all on my hard drive, in my phone and on my digital camera.
  2. No, I don’t.
  3. Yes, there are files here and in another location.
  4. I don’t even know what I have.

G.  True or False: my current operating system will never be obsolete.

  1. True
  2. False

(Correct Answers: 3, 1, 4, 2, 1, 3, False.)

For each correct answer give yourself a point.

If you got 0-2 correct:

Your data plan is out of date. You need to give your personal digital preservation plans a makeover.  Try reading up on some new ways to update your digital preservation style here.

If you got 3-5 correct:

You’ve gotten a few right, but still should update your preservation style. Don’t turn your data into a problem. Try reading up on some new ways to update your digital preservation style here.

If you got 6-7 correct:

Congrats, you have the right stuff to preserve your data. Rock on! You know about the ins and outs of preserving your digital data. But make sure that you keep up to date on future updates.

Until next time, I wish you all safe data.

The next time someone asks you what is personal digital archiving, you’ll have the answer and your strategy to preserve your hard work ready to go.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”

2 Comments

  1. Bonnie 3 May 2013 at 9:15 AM

    I think there’s an opportunity for genealogist to provide a service of preserving someone’s digital records

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