Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age?

I am surprised when we travel to some of the conferences we do that novices are often all excited about digitizing their family history: scanning in pictures, letters, documents, indexing and typing everything into their computer. As a librarian and an archivist, it makes me nervous. Heaven forbid someone would think they don't really need the originals anymore.

When you have digitized something, you have:

  • Made it easier to share
  • Made it easier to disseminate
  • Made it easier to copy
  • Made it easier to restore
  • Made it easier to index

You have not:

  • Archived it.
  • Probably made it last for more than a couple of years.

Threats to digital data enclude:

  • Hard to retrieve—buried with useless information
  • Physical deterioration
  • Lapsed, Purposely Destroyed
  • Un-useable format, Digital Obsolescene

The solutions I propose in my "Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age?" Lecture are these:

  • Dissemination: Store many copies in many situations and places
  • Refreshing/Back Up: Make a new copy in the same format to avoid physical deterioration
  • Replication: Making many copies of the material in different format
  • Migration: Move to the new system, newest software, newest format
  • Naming, Tagging and Filing: Use descriptive keywords and keep files organized.

We'll discuss each of these shortly. More to come...


Randy Seaver said...

Well said...I look forward to the sequels!

Cheers -- Randy

Thomas MacEntee said...

Great post Janet. I've been pushing the concept of a "data backup day" on the 1st of each month. I've placed it as an event on the Genea-Bloggers group and on the Google Calendar for genea-bloggers.


Beverly L. Royer said...

Thanks a lot for this information. I was planning to "some day" scan all my information and toss the originals in the basement. But now I'll be more aware of keeping the originals safe.