Friday Design: End of the Year Thoughts

Happy Friday, dear readers! I know it is not yet the end of the year, but I wanted to write an end-of-the year blog post before I dive deep into the holiday baking madness to save my computer from desecration by cookie dough. So, here’s some (hopefully) semi-organized thoughts, ideas, and inspiration about this year, mostly design and library focused.

It’s been a very interesting year, some really high highs and really low lows. But I’m going to focus on the good to try to keep the stress low and inspiration high for all of us. However, first, a signal boost and reminder to continue the fight to save net neutrality and contact your representatives in Congress. Check out Battle for the Net to get information on how to do this.

I don’t know about you, but I skated a little too close to burnout a little too often this year because of various work projects and commitments. Luckily, I had a trip to New Zealand to look forward to and it kept me going. (Yes, it really is that beautiful–see photo below):

photograph of hillside in New Zealand

And now I can safely say that it is an amazing country and a fabulous place to travel. Beautiful, calm, and inspiring. The landscape, cultures, and experiences have inspired me and my design. So, I hope you are able to travel, too, near or far away to see and experience something new to inspire you. It was even worth the awful cold I got as soon as I got home (better now, thank goodness).

While a lot has been trying and difficult this year, design work at the library has been a bright spot. Sometimes it feels like I can’t influence much of anything, but there is always something to be done. The No Space for Hate mini-poster I designed and was able to share here was one of the best ways of using my graphic design skills for good this year. I hope you find ways of using your design skills in the new year for good and in ways to inspire and uplift others.

[Shameless self-promotion following]

My most exciting event professionally was the publication of my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerning, in November. I even got to give an interview about why graphic design is important for all librarians that you can read here. It still feels a bit unreal that I actually got to write a book on graphic design on librarians. I hope you and your colleagues find the information useful and inspiring.

The handwriting, lettering, and calligraphy trend is still going strong, which is making everything look at least a bit homemade. And, it’s great for those of us who love an excuse to learn more about calligraphy. It’s also great for creating new designs for your library. If you have any resources you love for lettering or calligraphy, I’d love to hear about them. I’m hoping to do some larger calligraphy pieces in the new year.

So, what’s up around The Waki Librarian for the new year?

I’m going to be finishing up some library graphic design research in the new year, which I’m excited about and will hopefully start some new research, too. I want to work on redesigning more of the library’s bookmarks and handouts in the new year.

I’m also hoping to run, Blind Date with a Book, at my library in February. I’m looking forward to writing up blurbs for the books (another great excuse to practice calligraphy). If you’ve ever done it at your library and have some tips, I’d love to hear them.

Also, I’ll be at Midwinter, probably hanging out at the ALA booth seeing if anyone is buying my book (but, you know, not the whole time). If you are going to Midwinter and see me there, please say hi!

As this may be the last post here for the year, I want to wish you a wonderful end of the year and beautiful start to the new year. May you have endless inspiration for design and time to make your inspiration real. May you be kind and have kindness shown to you, whether you are in the library or out in the wider world.

And thank you, dear readers for continuing to read my blog and join me on this journey through libraries and graphic design. I will be back with more news and notes about libraries and design. Allons-y!

 

And I'm Back from Australia!

Hello, dear readers! I hope you are all well and are getting ready for the holidays. I apologize for the blog silence over the last few weeks, but I’ve been traveling in Australia and actually having a holiday. But now I’m back and want to share a bit of my trip with you.

The official reasons for going to Australia were to present at a conference and attend my graduation. Both of which were lovely experiences, but also wonderful excuses for taking a couple of weeks of much needed vacation as well. And, after flying 16 hours to Melbourne, I thought that taking a few weeks was the only way I’d ever want to get back on a plane! So first to the conference.

I have to give thanks and a shout out to the wonderful coordinators of the Buildings, Books, and Blackboards: Intersecting Narratives Conference in Melbourne. It was a great conference filled with interesting talks and friendly people. Part of Melbourne’s Knowledge Week, it was hosted by RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) in its newest building. My talk on part of my PhD research was well-received and I’m excited for the possibilities of extending my research into some of the areas talked about in the conference. (And wouldn’t it be great to have an excuse to do research in Australia?) It was a great experience and so nice to step out of being at a conference solely focused on archives and/or libraries into a conference about interdisciplinary work and with a focus on histories. And I have to say that everyone was super-friendly and nice, which is always wonderful at a conference far away from home (and completely jetlagged to boot!).

RMIT

RMIT

After the conference, I spent some time checking out the sights in Melbourne and touring the Great Ocean Road, before heading up north where I spent the majority of my time in Brisbane (home of my alma mater Queensland University of Technology). I happily got to meet with my supervisors from QUT while in town and even got to attend my graduation ceremony, which was quite fun. QUT was awesome and live streamed the ceremony so some of my family and friends back home got to watch me graduate, too. Technology is awesome sometimes. Don’t you just love the bonnet that is part of the regalia?

In my academic regalia

In my academic regalia

Brisbane is home to the very awesome State Library of Queensland, which has great indoor/outdoor facilities (and free wifi) and absolutely wonderful gardens (although the paths are filled with water dragons).

Colin Campbell Place at Roma Street Parklands

Colin Campbell Place at Roma Street Parklands

And, of course, if you go halfway ’round the world to Australia, it would be a shame not to cuddle a koala. So, obviously, my partner and I had to go out to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and cuddle koalas while we were in Australia.

Cuddling a koala

Cuddling a koala

Now I’m back and catching up with work before the holiday break and hopefully will be back to regular postings about libraries, archives, teaching, and technology soon. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday break full of relaxation and joy. Allons-y!

Some ideas and fun for Friday as I'm off to Portland for WACES!

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a relaxing weekend before you. It is hard to believe we are halfway through November already. The time does seem to start going more quickly at this time of year. I’m off this weekend to speak with one of my colleagues at WACES (Western Association for Counselor Education & Supervision) this weekend. I’m really excited to be speaking at a conference that isn’t in my field and can’t wait to see how we are received. I’ll hopefully post some thoughts and photos next week. But first let’s get to the ideas and fun for the weekend.

First, check out the great post from Lifehacker on Idea Rot: Why Ideas Have a Two Week Shelf Life. Short article and it will get you motivated (hopefully) to take some of your ideas and make them real. I’m a huge believer in setting aside time away from distractions for getting things done. I had to carve out lots of time when I was writing my dissertation and I still have to carve out time away from people and the Internet in order to get articles written or any of my design projects finished. It is so important to give ourselves the permission to really work and ignore other things, like email, in order to accomplish more in a day then eight hours on email.

I’m also thrilled that ArchiveGrid will become free in January 2013 (via INFOdocket)! Very exciting news and definitely great to share with anyone you know who does archival research.

Finally, because it is Friday, I wanted to share this video that is sure to make you smile (HT to Collin for sharing this with me).

Have a wonderful weekend full of relaxation, fun, and maybe getting into that project you’ve been dreaming about for months! I’m off to rainy Portland, but will be back next week with more. Allons-y!

PDA 2012: Academics Session

Very excited for this session on personal digital archiving in the academic setting. Let’s get into it!

Note: These summaries are not in order of presentation because they didn’t follow the schedule and I had already made up the outline of my post.

Voices from the field Smiljana Antonijevic (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)
This research comes from two projects: Alfalab (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) and Humanities Information Practices (Oxford Internet Institute). Did site visits, observations, interviews, log-file analysis. 95 informants for this study of digital humanities.

Found out about main challenges through this study. Scholars showed a “broad spectrum of technology used and awareness.” Very important to keep in mind that there is a wide-range of skills, practices, and interests among scholars when we are creating tools for them to use. Found that some scholars print out everything and make handwritten notes before writing up their findings. Others do all their work digitally and use databases, visualization tools, and annotation tools before disseminating findings online via blogs, online journals, etc.. Plus, everything in between these two extremes.

Preservation issues stand out in this study’s findings. Very important challenge. Scholars said that their research happens in bursts so not as organized as they (or we) would like. [I can totally relate to that.] Very random preservation practices among the scholars. Limited awareness of cloud storage, etc.. Scholars worried about sustainability of digital resources and archives. Need sustainable infrastructures.

Librarians have their own struggles. What to preserve? How to preserve stuff? What needs to be reformatted? [Same struggles that archivists face.] More advanced users have more advanced problems (probably because they are using more and more varied tools).

One informant: “There is a huge problem of data preservation and archiving.”

Another challenge: Preservation+ Value-added preservation to allow scholars to use their data in new ways after preservation. [I think this is a very interesting point and it is from the user so that is always cool. I wonder how we would do this. Maybe via a similar set-up to DataONE?]

Difficult to move forward because there is such a divergence among scholars about what they want from Digital Humanities tools. Plus, so much variance among use and interest in technological tools.

What’s being lost, what’s being saved: practices in digital scholarship and personal archiving John Butler (University of Minnesota)
Talking about research on data practices of scholars. Called them “primitives” then looked at activities and behaviors. [Butler says this study has been published] 73% of respondents said they need assistance for organizing and storing their materials. 37% said they have unique research collections. Other findings: diversity of resources/media used, methods learned in “traditional” contexts are not easily transferred to digital context, and researchers have interest in sharing data, but only in their own ways.

Other finding: each scholar has own digital processes (not surprising). Advocates for standardized practice. [Wouldn’t every archivist love standardized practice and records? It would make our work a lot easier, but the records much less interesting (in my opinion as I like variety).] Also advocating lifecycle thinking for records [just like archivists have been talking about for years]. You can check out their website on managing your data.

Note: I didn’t catch when this research was completed or I would have included a citation to the research publication or linked to the article if it was in an open access journal.

Tale of Two Researchers by Laura Gurak (University of Minnesota)
Gurak is trained in qualitative research methodologies and storing of data. Talking about how it is easier to be organized in analog
world. Digital media makes storing data more complicated and often in more places than when there was paper recordkeeping. In digital space, different type of researcher. Less motivation to be organized with personal research because no IRB, no concern about reproducibility, etc..

Talking about her Lotus MarketPlace case study (also published as a book). She looked into the protest online in 1990 because of privacy issues (her dissertation research). Looked at emails and Usenet news posting to analyze. Data now lives on a local hard drive.

Other case study: personal research on the ship that brought over her grandmother from Copenhagen. Gurak’s become her family’s archivist and tech support person. Able to find out where the ship was docked in Copenhagen through the internet. But lost trail of her research, got so excited that didn’t save the way she found information. Terrible track of her resources because not treating it as a research project. The information she has lives everywhere.

Faculty Member as Micro-Librarian: Critical literacies for personal scholarly archiving Ellysa Stern Cahoy by Penn State University Libraries
“Library of today resides on the scholars’ desktops.” Looking at critical literacies for personal archiving, based on the information literacy (IL) standards from ACRL. [Stern Cahoy is on a taskforce at ACRL reviewing the IL standards. Oh, please make them more conversant with the IL research coming out of Australia.]

Curation, archiving, and preservation are not part of the IL standards right now. Stern Cahoy wants to include these standards in the next iteration of the IL standards. [I think this would be very cool and useful, especially as I teach information literacy to first-year college students] Also would be more aligned with SCONUL’s Seven Pillars of Information Literacy.

I, Digital: Personal collections as an archival endeavor by Cal Lee of UNC Chapel Hill
Focusing on the archival profession and trends. Many archival institutions have collecting missions that include personal papers in addition to institutional records.

Five trends:
1. Work within collecting institutions have become very professionalized (specialization, profession education and training, conferences, professional associations, specialized language, etc.)
2. Individuals have gained more ability to create and store materials
3. Parts of personal collections are distributed across a diversity of systems, environments, and platforms
4. Researchers have placed more emphasis on importance of personal stories (yay, social history!)
5. Previously distinct communities have realized they have similar issues with dealing with digital materials.

Long-standing division of the manuscripts versus public records traditions in the archival profession. “Evidential turn” of the 1990s in archival literature, inspired by electronic records. This divide has flavored the way the profession has dealt with personal digital archives. Not a lot of focus on these personal records until recently.

Along with other related streams of activity, like electronic recordkeeping, personal information management, and tools for user-generated collections, now influence how we deal with personal digital records. Many recent projects and activities focused on personal digital archives (much funded by the Mellon Foundation).

Just published the I, Digital about work on personal digital archives. (Check it out for more information about this topic).

Huge potential for further collaboration among tech people, curators, archivists, and special collections librarians. Can develop this arena in a way that will get attention to help out the archival profession expand the solutions to personal digital archives.

Take Home Messages
We need to work together to bring more attention to the issues and promises of personal digital archives. I think this is especially important for the archives profession. We must also keep better track of our digital research projects, even if they start out as personal projects, because the personal can morph into something larger and it is important to document. We need to remember that there is a great variance among scholars in the adoption, interest, and use of digital resources when we are creating new tools (repurposing tools) for digital humanities (and really in the creation of any digital tools). Incorporating personal archiving into the information literacy standards would be amazing and very helpful for making students more aware of and able to organize, preserve, and ultimately be able to use their own archives. Academic session for the win! Great talks all.

PDA 2012: Day 2 Keynote by Cathy Marshall

Happy Friday! It is Day 2 of Personal Digital Archiving 2012 and first up we have the keynote by Cathy Marshall of Microsoft Research: “Whose Content is it Anyway? User Perspectives on Archiving Social Media.” Let’s see what she has to say on user’s perspective on archiving social media.

Discussing the issues around reuse of images on the Internet. Lots of reuse of materials on the Internet, especially images. Many people don’t even attribute when they use images, even if they can legally use them under Creative Commons (which is bad). Social norms have developed around reuse because people ignore laws, market share, and the architecture around reusing (using Lessig’s “jelly bean” diagram).

So we are left with social norms. Did a study of user behaviors around using and reusing images.

Findings:
“Everyone” believes that you can keep anything you find online. “It’s yours.” [No wonder I have a hard time explaining fair use and copyright to my students.]

People seem to be able to justify any use and reuse of images. Many feel that everything on the web is in the public domain and don’t have any conception of copyright. People feel differently about reusing different types of media. People are very liberal in their reuse of images. People worried more about reusing other people’s reviews versus other people’s photographs.

People worry about manipulating images and reviews in ways that are mean-spirited. Feelings are important to take into account when reusing materials.

Factors that influence social norms: personal experience, media type, perception of misuse or harm done, and mis/understanding of copyright.

Making a case for institutional archives [umm….institutional archives are quite old. Let’s see what she means by this…] She seems to be talking about personal digital archiving instead of institutional archives. Within families, the person interested in archiving and the person interested in technology are often not the same person. People are saving information in many places which makes personal data management more difficult. There is an “overwhelming power of benign neglect” because digital clutter is invisible because “creation is more rewarding than stewardship.”

Therefore, it’s difficult to get people to manage their data. Plus, it is difficult for institutional archives to manage all these digital traces. People aren’t worried about storing social media in institutional archives, they worry about access and reuse. There is a difference between being public in the digital social media landscapes and being archived in public institutional archives.

Looking at people’s perceptions of institutional archives, using the Library of Congress as the prototypical archive. People are okay with immediate access for researchers (researcher was not defined), but people were not okay with immediate public access to social media in institutional archives. People were okay with the general public having access in 50 years.

Implications: people “can’t make a go of it on their own.” Therefore, we need institutional archives to help with preserving social media.

Take Home Message
People are confused (or don’t care) about the correct use and reuse of images they find on the Internet. We need education and also archivists to actually preserve social media. Not really brand new thoughts or findings, but always good to emphasize these issues.

PDA 2012: Systems, Tools, Platforms

Second afternoon talk: Systems/Tools/Platforms

Putting Personal Archives to Work by Sudheendra Hangal of Stanford University
Personal motivation for creating tools: reading his grandfather’s wonderful diaries which covered 50 years of his life. Thinking about what his grandchildren would read, he thought of emails. Then began creating MUSE in order to browse long-term email archive in a convenient and fun way. The original goal was for personal archival use, even though it is now being used for institutional archives at Stanford.

MUSE runs on user’s own machine, browser-based interface, can get emails from multiple online accounts, and also does data cleaning. Creates cues for users and then users can decide what is interesting and useful for the users. People use MUSE to reminisce about the past, but also to “add color to flashbulb memories,” summarize work progress, identify personal emails in work email accounts, retrieve all attachments, and feel “a renewed sense of confidence.” [Always interesting to see how people find new ways to use tools]

Looking at inline applications for digital archives since many people in the tech world don’t think it’s interesting to look at the past. Working at slanting your search: a search engine per user, populated with domains in their social chatter and search results restricted to these domains. Ran user studies for different search engines. The best results over all were for the email search engine that were personalized for the user from the curated domains. Findings: eliminates spam, good search results. Check out demo of Slanted search here.

Application for consuming textual information to create experience-infused browser. Using your digital archive to customize your browser. Privacy-preserving personalization because all personal data on client (no third party), very rich profile (but unstructured), potentially comprehensive, every site does not have to implement personalization, and no setup needed. People like to discover names of people the know or have discussed, organizations with which they are affiliated, and more. [Hopefully we’ll be able to use this soon]

Personal archives contain detailed experiences and we can mine the archives for the owner’s benefit. Lots of questions and work to still do, but very exciting.

Data Triage and Data Analytics for Personal Digital Collections Kam Woods of UNC Chapel Hill
Working on the BitCurator Project. The project “is an effort to build, test, and analyze systems and software for incorporating digital forensics methods into the workflows of a variety of collecting institutions.”

Why? Because there are many issues in digital preservation and archiving. Issues around the acquisition of personal digital collections in collecting institutions: protecting information, processing collections, and generating metadata–takes time and staff. These issues are long-standing. Need reliable, scalable, and interoperable standards, tools, and techniques.

Building a model for a “forensically enhanced workflow.” Start with a donor device, extract fixed media, acquire raw disk image and forensic packaging, then go to staging area to extract context-senstive identification of private information, acquisition metadata, filesystem metadata, prepare redacted image, permissions overlay, and crosswalks to archival metadata, package for ingest, then to the archives. [Looks complicated]

Looks like it will be useful for collecting institutions once the project is finished and is made user-friendly.

Cowbird by Jonathan Harris
Went from keeping sketchbooks to working on the web and creating websites. You can see his work here. Interesting websites and art that document the world and experiences. You can see Cowbird here. Looking at compression of communication (speeding up), disposability, curating information, and self-promotion. Wants to see revival of deepening, timelessness, creation, and self-reflection in life an online.

Cowbird’s goals are to create place for expression, a new way of journalism, and build a library of life experience. “Deeper form of self-expression.”

Take Home Messages
So many uses for MUSE. Check it out. There are many ways to use personal digital archives to improve searching today, very interesting way to connect archives to daily life. Many ways to communicate and share online. It is what we make of it.

PDA 2012: Social Network Data

First after-lunch session at PDA 2012 on Social Network Data. Let’s get to it.

Arc-chiving: saving social links for study by Marc A. Smith at Social Media Research Foundation
This is the “what’s new since last year talk.” Trying to build the “Firefox of GraphML” open tools for collecting and visualizing social media data to show patterns of connections. Open tool: NodeXL (works with Excel 2007 and Excel 2010). Creating a platform for sharing data sets: NodeXLGraphGallery.

“2011 was the year of the crowd.” Many, many people gathered in crowds in social media. Through using the NodeXL tools, you can see the social networks and online community connections. [Nice visualizations for doing analyses]

Publishing on taxonomy of social media (lots of work on open scholarship). Lots of stuff still to do. More workshops are coming so keep an eye out for them and new features/tools/etc..

Need to get companies and people to play together in order to truly be able to document social media networks and connections. [I think there are a lot of conversations that need to happen around privacy, social good, connections, research, preservation, etc. in order to move these kind of programs forward.]

Personal Interaction Archiving: Saving our Attitudes, Beliefs, and Interests by Megan Alicia Winget of UT Austin

“Thing” based behavior of looking at archiving things (e.g. objects) versus interaction based behavior (e.g. Foursquare and Yelp). Many options for archiving and preserving their interactions online. Winget is giving a theoretical talk instead of tool-based talk.

Bookmarking as a new type of commonplace book. “Everything old is new again.” Commonplace book= place to store quotes, excerpts, etc. in journal form. Using bookmarking tools is a way of returning to an early way of reading and writing, skipping around and reading many things at once. Remixing, annotating, etc. are very old ideas. People now annotate and highlight through ebook tools and can share them, if they choose to do so. Readers are having “wordless conversations” through their annotations.

Need to think about ownership and representation when looking at uploaded annotations. Need to think about ownership versus licensing in the online and digital world. Need to understand the relationships among people, artifacts, and their interactions.

Take Home Messages
Studying social media is important and you can use NodeXL to study connections and visualize the connections. Very interesting and useful for researchers interested in social media and online social connections. Need to think about things and interactions in order to truly document and preserve the context of our lives and our communities.

PDA 2012: Media Types

Second morning session: media types. Let’s see what we have to talk about now.

Processing and Delivering Email Archives in Special Collections using MUSE Peter Chan from Stanford University
Email archiving is important, but there are many challenges: copyright and privacy, sensitive information, description, and delivering. So how do you bulk process/archive emails? Description is especially important and difficult because we must include useful metadata and description in order to make the email archives useful for people.

MUSE is a project at Stanford for email archiving and actually do something useful with the emails. Can do sentiment analysis and also group analysis. [I’ve used this before and it is quite fun.] Can also look at image attachments as a slideshow. Lots of very cool improvements on MUSE since the last time I used it. Very cool.

Processing emails with MUSE: edit pre-built lexicon and screen for sensitive information and mark for restriction, group by known projects, conferences, etc. and can use MUSE functions to create usable archives at the institutional level. Deliver metadata about the emails on the web via summary information, sentiment visualizations, etc. In the reading room, can deliver individual emails and attachments. Gaps: sophisticated search, original view via the creator’s email folders/tags, delivery mode for metadata, lexicons, and foreign language support.

parallel-flickr Aaron Straup Cope
Link to information: parallel-flickr appendix

“For all intents and purposes, no one backs up their photos.” Flickr has a lot of trust from users and people just assume that their photos will always be there. But we really need backups because every system fails at some time.

parallel-flickr uses the Flickr API to pull out the photos and photo information. The source files are then fed into the database and then uploaded to the website. Also can pulls in photos you favorite on Flickr. You can use parallel-flickr just for yourself or for sharing with others.

Note: Seems very interesting and important, but I’m just not following this talk. I need to go through his extra information after the conference to get a better handle on this.

Remember the Web? Practical challenges of Bookmarking for Keeps Maciej Ceglowski (Pinboard founder)
Link to talk

Pinboard.in founded in 2009, 9 million archived bookmarks, and 4 TB stored web content. “The search engine does not replace the need for your own bookmarks.” Archive bookmarks because link rot is a large problem. By archiving your bookmarks, you’ll be able to get to what you want (you can sign up for this extra service through Pinboard). Challenges to getting the content: adversarial servers (paywalls/authentication, sessions, streaming content, geoidiocy), desperate advertisers (hyperpagination, interstitials, URL shorteners, IP law), and inner platform effect (dynamic loading, infinite load, #!hashbang URLs, third-party comments, Flash).

Take Home Message
Email archiving is important and MUSE makes these large email archives actually usable (and makes fun visualizations). MUSE is still being developed, but is already cool and useful project. Back up your data and files. Check out Pinboard for archiving your bookmarks.

PDA 2012: Cases and Examples

First morning session: case studies and examples. Let’s get into it.

How My Family Archives Affected Othersby Stan James (on Twitter @wanderingstan)
Talking about his grandmother and grandfather and how his grandmother burned all her letters after she had let her children read the letters. [Note: Stan spoke at PDA 2011 about his family archiving project] His father is still scanning his materials.

Three points: personal archiving is a hot space; much room for creativity; archiving and relationships

Still working on the family archives and checking out other social media sites to share the images and documents. Used Drupal platform to create own family website (lots more work than he thought it would be). Lots of great features on the website because have tagging metadata. Lots and lots of photos. Began using maps, especially Google Street View, to see how geographical locations have changed since the photos were taken years ago. Also has had many text documents scanned and transcribed via Mechanical Turk. Lots of mashups on the website, like covers from TIME on the website based on the date of the letters written.

Using simple questions and randomly selected photos to get the rest of the metadata entered by the family members (using the website). This project has helped the family members become closer and need to make the interfaces easier to use, especially for those who are not familiar with technology or have mobility issues.

You need to think about privacy concerns of others who are in the photos (but not part of the family) and also geo-location codes for those who don’t want their homes marked online.

The Personal Archive of Sven G. by Sven Goyvaerts
Unfortunately not here

What I’ve learned from gardening my Brain Jerry Michalski, The REXpedition
[Talking now instead of after lunch]

Talking about The Brain and using it for 15 years in one brain space. It’s mind-mapping software. Each link is called “a thought” and links together various thoughts and maps out the connections. Very good if you are a visual thinker and can make your own links to various thoughts. You can drag and drop new links into “the brain” on your desktop. Good way to create context and to make sense out of the world, but you have to rely on organizations like the Internet Archive to be able to find old websites. You can use The Brain instead of bookmarks. Does have a notes field. Doesn’t take a lot of time according to Jerry and helps him improve his memory. Can see his brain at JerrysBrain.com. He isn’t sure what to do with this now because, while it is great for him, he wants to figure out how it could be helpful for others. He wants to do collaborative sense-making.

Unstable Archives: Performing the Franko B Archive by Jo An Morfin-Guerrero (fine art conservator and student at Bristol University)
Part of PhD research on preservation of media and different artistic practices. Franko B is an artist who currently lives in London and does many different types of art including performance art. He started collecting documentation of his artistic work and donated to Live Art Archives at Bristol University. Very controversial to document performance art because you are preserving something that has been created to be ephemeral. [I think this is a very interesting philosophical and theoretical debate] Because the artist himself has collected the documentation and donated to the university in 2009, it is a bit less controversial to archive this collection.

First she just dealt with materiality of the collection because the materials were in very poor containers and not indexed. Then she began worked with the materials and the database records to do media archaeology to see what the materials together mean. Lots of interesting dilemmas for archiving. How do you show moving behaviors through time with static archives? How do you convey the ephemeral nature of the performance art?

Take Home Message
Family archiving is a great way to bring multiple generations of the family together. It is a great way to share memories, but does take a lot of time to create. Check out TheBrain for mind-mapping and contextual bookmarks if you like visual linkages. Performance art in the archives means that we must find new ways of showing context and using the archives to create meaning (and being okay with not always having the answers). Very interesting trio of talks showing the diversity of personal archiving methods and tools.

Personal Digital Archiving 2012: Keynote by Mike Ashenfelder

Happy Thursday, dear readers! Today is the first day of Personal Digital Archiving Conference at the Internet Archive. I’m excited to hear about lots of cool projects and tools, but not psyched to sit on wooden pews for two days. (The Internet Archive is in an old Christian Science church.) But let’s get into what Mike Ashenfelder has to say about the Library of Congress’ Personal Digital Archive Advice for the General Public.

“Sometimes we complicate things more than they need to be.”

Library of Congress is simplifying by helping people get started with their own personal digital archiving. Goal is to help the general public. Need to simplify our institutional-level digital preservation knowledge and share it with the general public. Basically, you scale down the workflow process for individuals.

Need to get the message out that people need to manage their digital assets because there is no such thing as benign neglect in the digital realm.

“Cells of history”: having people archive their own materials helps the institutional archives because the collections will already be processed when they come to the archives.

Photos are the main concern for most people. Cell phone cameras have exponentially increased the number of photos people take, keep, and want to maintain access to for future use.

Workflow:
Identify: What you want to save
Decide: What is most important
Organize: Keep it all in one place
Save Copies: In different places

Library of Congress can’t make any endorsements of projects, therefore has to point to other resources. Makes terminology more accessible to people. [Great tip: always use clear language. I’m a librarian and archivist and I don’t even appreciate the acronym soup and crazy lingo we seem to come up with to describe what we do.]

Library of Congress has many resources for the general public, including blogs, Facebook, and videos (iTunes and YouTube). [This is great because there is a lot of incorrect information about digital preservation, especially surrounding online materials.] You can check out the information on the Library of Congress’ Personal Archiving site. Also, the LoC has the Personal Archiving Day which coincides with ALA’s Preservation Week. They go to National Book Festival, too, which is the best outreach event for increasing people’s knowledge of preserving their own media. Unsurprisingly, people love to play with obsolete media at these outreach events.

Unsurprisingly, you need to listen to the public to make sure they understand the educational materials and to see what questions they have. Also, simplify all your writing and materials. Think haiku, not free verse.

Everyone needs to do more outreach and marketing to get people aware of digital archiving. Train the trainer in the public libraries and people will get excited to become involved. Community outreach is super-important and gets great collaborations and partnerships formed. You can find a Personal Archiving Day Kit on the Library of Congress’ website.

Take Home Message:
You’ve got to make it easy and not scare people if you want people to organize, tag, and archive their materials. I hope that more people feel that they want to and can preserve their materials so we don’t lose these materials. Maybe I can convince my library that we should hold a personal archiving day to help people start organizing and preserving their materials. Get into the community and get people excited to preserve their materials!