JISC Beginner's Guide to Digital Preservation

…creating a pragmatic guide to digital preservation for those working on JISC projects

Preserving Digital Lives

Posted by Marieke Guy on August 23rd, 2010

The @jisckeepit Twitter account alerted me to a really interesting article on downsizing your personal world from physical to digital (Cult of less: Living out of a hard drive). The jist of it is that many people are getting rid of their CD, DVD, and book collections and replacing them with digital versions. On an extreme level this has led to some people getting rid of nearly all of their physical possessions and living a ‘minimalist life’.

The article really struck me on a number of levels. Firstly I have been having quite a few discussions with a friend who is in the process of down-sizing to a smaller house. She’d already sold off her CDs on ebay (after adding them to her MP3 player) but has now gone one step further and got rid off her books too. She can get the informtion she needs off the Web of by using an e-book reader. To many living in a house of clutter this might appeal, personally I’m not quite ready to let go. However we both agreed that on an environmental level any moves away from ‘creating stuff’ must be a good thing.

Secondly, and of more relevance to this blog, there is the digital preservation angle. As @jisckeepit put it “note how rapidly preservation becomes critical…“. In fact there is no mention of ‘digital preservation’ in the article per se but there is recognition that back ups are vital.

Mr Yurista says he frequently worries he may lose his new digital life to a hard drive crash or downed server. “You have to really make sure you have back-ups of your digital goods everywhere,” he said.

The article mentions the new role of Data crisis counsellors who help individuals claw back their data: “data recovery services will become rather like the firefighters of the 21st Century – responders who save your valuables.

Digital Lives

Back in 2007-2009 the British Library carried out the Digital Lives Research Project. The project team, made up of the British Library, University College London and University of Bristol, created a major pathfinding study of personal digital collections.

One of the primary research questions asks How should curators approach selection, preservation and access to personal digital collections? What aspects of existing practice can be applied? What needs to be changed?

The Digital Lives project blog offers some interesting insites. The beta synthesis of the project was released early this year and is available as a PDF (it is a hefty 259 pages long but well worth a read!)

It is concluded that the role of personal archives in daily life and their research value have never been more profound. The potential benefits to society and to individuals are both deep and far reaching in their capacity to empower research and human well being and advancement….The project has outlined the concept of Personal Informatics to encapsulate the three concerns of digital capture, preservation and utility in the context of personal digital objects, and to embrace the study of digital personal information in all its manifestations.

So how does preservation of our own digital lives fit in with JISC? The answer is still unclear but as the lines between work and home life, real and digital continue to blur many may feel that the digital preservation thread cuts right the way across.

JISC Keep It

Note the JISC Keep It project aims to enable a diverse range of digital content presented by institutional repositories – research papers, science data, arts, teaching materials and theses – to be managed effectively today, tomorrow and beyond. Their Web site and blog are useful for anyone interested in a repositories role in digital preservation.

2 Responses to “Preserving Digital Lives”

  1. Marieke Guy Says:

    The Library of Congress have a very useful section on Personal Archiving: Preserving Your Digital Memories.

    It looks specifically at
    # Digital Photographs
    # Electronic Mail
    # Digital Audio
    # Personal Digital Records
    # Digital Video
    # Websites

    There is also a Personal Archiving Brochure.

  2. Newsletter for August 2010 « UKOLN Update Says:

    [...] Preserving Digital Lives [...]