Major Projects in Personal Digital Archiving

First session of Personal Digital Archiving 2011 Conference: Major Projects in Personal Digital Archiving. Highlights noted in this post.

Preserving Your Family History Records Digitally (published at
by Gary Wright

Wright created a paper to provide information about digital preservation and digital archiving for family history. Good introduction to many archival issues for family historians and those doing genealogy. Highlights are below:

Why should you embrace digital records?
No worry about physical records being too fragile to handle and now more and more records are created digitally.

Digital Preservation: storing digital records with descriptive information, for a very long time in multiple locations, at the highest resolution affordable, and migrating data to new storage media and changing file formats before they become obsolete.

Main challenges:
Storage media decomposes, as all archivists know, so be careful about what media you use. Need to migrate files. Recommendations for file formats: PDF/A, JPEG 2000, AVI and Quicktime. (Luckily file formats have become obsolete at a much slower pace than many thought they would earlier in digital preservation research.)

Tips for personal digital archiving of family history:
Renaming files
Add in metadata/tags
Talks about digital rights/copyright (librarians all over cheer!)
LOCKSS principle (librarians and archivists cheer again!)
Periodically test your digital records, at least annually
Need to educate people about preserving their own history

New web service: LegacyDox allows you to send in your files, they will create an M-DISC (archival CD) and index it for you. Nice, I wonder how much it costs.

Take away: Good introduction for those who are not archivists, but a basic review for those who work in digital preservation and archives. This may be a good paper to give to your researchers and patrons to help them get into digital preservation.

Next talk:
Personal Informatics: Fuzzy Hashes, Virtual Machines and Visual Analytics
Jeremy Leighton John (from the British Library), Curator of Digital Objects

Vision for British Library and released Treasures Mobile app.

New team at British Library, Digital Scholarship, coordinate digital scholarship. Researched and wrote as a team, Digital Lives Study.

What does a modern curator of digital objects do?
eMSS Lab: 2.0 at the British Library looks at:
Digital Forensics
Curatorial Examination
Enhanced Curation
Ancestral Computing
Basically, a lot of really cool stuff and reminds me a bit of the awesome digital preservation unit at the Library of Congress.

More information about enhanced curation: Take photographs of offices/workspaces of artists, writers, and scientists and these become museum objects in their own right. Can then use the photos to create panoramas of their workspaces. Also do video work with the scientists, etc.

Update on Digital Forensics: Looking into portable forensics set up to go to offices and capture data instead of having to do the forensics back at the digital curation labs at the British Library. Also working with emulators to recreate desktops of individuals.

Fuzzy Hashes: Relatedness
Use to find related files. Look at the hashs to see the similarity. Get the hash for a specific file and then scan the rest of the disk to find files that are similar in values. Very cool. Could be useful also in FRBR (has this already been done? I’m not as up on FRBR as I should be).

Lots of other very interesting software programs being used to analyze digital files and people’s data (I’m sorry, I couldn’t catch all the names. Check out the British Library’s website for more information).

Take away: Awesome work and research is being done at the British Library. Check out some of the links above for more information.

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