Personal Digital Archiving 2013 will feature a diverse range of presentations, including:

Full Papers

“Protecting the Personal Narrative: An Assessment of Archival Practice’s Place in Personal Digital Archiving,” Seth Anderson

The archival community struggles to fit in the private process of personal digital archiving. A common recommendation is to begin preservation far upstream, introducing archival practices early into the act of personal collection. But what may the archives best intentions introduce into the act of personal collection? Entering too early into the process may place undue influence on the decisions of the collector, the what gets kept and why? Active preservation of digital personal archives is necessary for ensuring the longevity of materials, but the archives community must be aware that this may alter the personal narratives that personal archives represent.

The need for continued preservation actions in digital archiving may represent a shift in the very nature of personal archiving. Whereas physical collections could be placed in the proverbial shoebox under the bed, the increased number of digital materials and their dispersal across numerous platforms means that the locating and identification of digital materials may be a vital new characteristic to personal archiving. This paper illuminates the paradox between the private act of personal archiving and the need for action or education from the archival community.

Studies on archives relation to personal digital archiving recommend various strategies for addressing this dilemma, including early identification and collection to basic educational resources. These strategies are valuable to the field, but reveal the complications inherent in the intrusion of archival structure on the unique process of personal archiving. This paper examines and the existing literature, critiquing the potential negative outcomes that organizational influence may have on the way an individual interacts with their personal archives. It will posit if and how archives professionals can ensure a digital process analogous to personal archiving techniques of physical materials, or if this is no longer a tenable approach to personal collection in the digital era.

“Scholarly workflow and personal digital archiving”, Smiljana Antonijevic and Ellysa Stern Cahoy

This paper presents preliminary findings of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded project currently underway at Penn State University. In the project, we explore the digital scholarly workflow of Penn State faculty across disciplines encompassing the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The project explores scholars practices and needs related to information management within a personal data lifecycle.

Drawing on results of the web-based survey completed by over 300 Penn State faculty members during Fall, 2012, as well as the analysis of ethnographic interviews conducted with the Penn State faculty and graduate students in the same period of time, we present our initial findings related to scholars self-archiving practices and curating of personal information collections. We further discuss our respondents views on what constitutes their most lasting scholarly output, as well as which strategies they apply for curating and preserving that output. Finally, we examine the respondents perspective on the role of academic institutions in ensuring longer-term access to academic work, and their attitudes related to data sharing and accessibility.

The proposed paper harvests a comparative multidisciplinary perspective of our study in order to explore specificities of scholars archiving practices across the academic disciplines. This gives us a further opportunity to identify architecture that supports digital scholarship in general, and personal digital archiving in particular, as well as facilitates the development of literacies for faculty personal information management needs. Therefore, while focusing on the survey and faculty interview findings across academic disciplines, the paper also highlights the future trajectory of our study, as well as planned next steps regarding educational and technological initiatives to address better unification and management of scholarly workflow.

“Collaborating to Improve and Protect Born-Digital Acquisitions,” Megan Barnard and Gabriela Redwine

Born-digital materials are vulnerable. They can be damaged by environmental factors, internal corruption, and human hands. The creators, dealers, family members, and other custodians handling disks and computers destined for an archival repository may be uncomfortable with technology, uncertain about the value of digital files, and unsure of how to protect digital materials from harm during shipping.

With these concerns in mind, ten archivists and special collections curators from the Beinecke, the Bodleian, the British Library, Duke University, Emory University, and the Harry Ransom Center have spent the last year collaborating on a report called Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories. The topics addressed by sections in the report arose from group discussions about digital acquisitions experiences at our respective repositories, and include Initial Collection Review, Privacy and Intellectual Property, Key Stages in Acquiring Digital Materials, and Post-Acquisition Review by the Repository. Each section provides an overview of the topic and concludes with two lists of recommendations: one for custodians and dealers, and a second for repository staff. Appendices provide more specific information about staffing costs and how to prepare for the unexpected. Born Digital offers recommendations to ensure the physical and intellectual well being of born-digital acquisitions, and is intended for a broad audience with varying levels of interest and expertise.

A draft of the report is being published* by MediaCommons Press, an innovative online publisher that allows for open public review via a commenting interface. Feedback offered by readers will play a key role in our revision process as we prepare Born Digital for final publication.

The proposed paper will discuss the motivations for the project, describe the groups collaborative process and goals, and explore the primary recommendations offered in the report.

“Law and Society: Current Advances in the Digital Afterlife,” Evan Carroll

There is no doubt that digital technology has and will continue to challenge the social and legal constructs in our world. From notions of ownership to legalities of rights and fair use, digital has challenged the status quo at every level. Recently state lawmakers have taken up the issue of digital inheritance and presently five states have estates laws that pertain to digital information. Connecticut and Rhode Island specifically grant executors access to the email accounts of the deceased. Indiana, Oklahoma and Idaho more broadly grant executors access to the electronic information belonging to the deceased. Lawmakers in Nebraska and New York are presently considering similar legislation as well as the Uniform Laws Commission, a national organization that suggests laws to states in the US. Additionally the author knows of early efforts in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Oregon to implement similar laws.

While these laws are beneficial for inheritance, they also come with issues. First, as many service provider relationships are governed by terms of service, which is written under the laws of a particular state, these laws may not apply to popular email and social media providers. Second, these laws might trigger privacy concerns for individuals who would prefer their digital information remain private. Finally, there is no standard for these laws across the country, which may cause confusion amongst service providers. Moreover, lacking a socially accepted process for dealing with the information of the deceased, there’s no standard by which these laws are evaluated? The net result might be a confusing set of laws, disconnected from social norms–an issue that can be corrected with a uniform approach.

In this presentation Evan Carroll will review these current advances in digital inheritance laws, evaluate their impact on the larger set digital afterlife issues, and present a model approach for digital inheritance laws from his work in North Carolina.

“Passionate About History and the Making of History: in Situ Dialogues with Artists and their Assistants about Studio Archives,” Heather Gendron

This presentation will summarize the findings of a two-year long study of the archiving and documentation practices of professionally-active artists, culled from in-depth interviews conducted at the studios of renowned and award-winning artists Cai Guo Qiang, Mel Chin, Susan Harbage Page, Juan Logan, Dara Birnbaum, Phyllis Baldino, Stacy Lynn Waddell, William Wegman, Shana Moulton, and Vito Acconci. In their own voices, artists and their assistants describe their working practices, how they manage studio archives successfully, what challenges they face, and what their concerns are for the future.

Through on-site and semi-structured interviews at artists studios, a critical need for help with the day-to-day and long-term management of digital records was revealed. Early career artists are unsure about what to save and how to organize their materials, and mid-to-late career artists struggle with the vastness of their accumulated archives. Many artists, from all points in their careers, have difficulty prioritizing their long-term preservation goals over their short-term needs. All of the artists in the study have infrastructures in place for their studio archives, but are faced with the challenges of prioritizing the maintenance of their archives over creating new works, what choices to make for the long-term preservation of their digital media, and how to strategize and plan for their archives afterlife.

This presentation will also summarize the larger intent of this research project, which is to develop a workbook for artists, their studio assistants, and archivists on managing, sustaining, and providing access to studio archives. In addition to featuring case studies from studio artist interviews, the publication will also include dialogues with institutional archivists working with artists records and with art historians who research contemporary artists about their working practices.

“Providing Access to Email Archives for Historical Research,” Sudheendra Hangal, Sit Manovit, Peter Chan, and Monica S. Lam

Archives of letters and documents belonging to individuals provide valuable
insights into history. In the digital age, archival organizations have
recognized the importance of email archives and often collect them from donors;
however they find it difficult to screen, process and provide access to them,
due to the challenges of the medium and the sheer volume of material. Building
on the Muse research project at Stanford, we are designing solutions for
libraries and archival organizations to support the phases of processing
(arrangement and description), Appraisal (collection development/review),
Discovery (online, partial access via the web), and Delivery (access).

Using this system, we can now offer the public partial access to email
archives over the web, allowing researchers to get a sense of the topics in the
archive’s contents without revealing confidential information. The public mode
provides access for any user to features based on metadata such as the names of
correspondents, visualizations of communication frequency, etc, but it cannot
provide full access to message contents for reasons of confidentiality. However,
we currently implement partial access to message bodies by redacting
everything but the named entities (people, places, organizations) in them.
Uses can also perform bulk searches, for example, by pasting in text from some
source and seeing the presence of connections between the text and the contents
of the archive. We have incorporated optimizations for scalability, since
popular archives may be accessed simultaneously by many users, particularly
when there are related newsworthy events.

“Engaging users with personal archives through gamification,” Sudheendra Hangal and Monica S. Lam

Billions of people are acquiring long-term digital archives that captures details of
their lives at a granularity never before available. We consider playful ways
for users to engage with their digital archives, as a means of reminiscence, for
having fun and for testing their memory.

As part of the Muse project at Stanford, we have designed algorithms to automatically
generate a crossword puzzle from a user’s email archives. We identify
significant terms in email archives, place as many of them as possible on a
crossword grid, and let users interactively solve the puzzle, providing hints
when needed. Clues for the puzzle are taken directly from email message
bodies, which may consist of words the user herself has written many years ago,
but may have forgotten. When the puzzle is solved, it leads the user to the
messages that were used in its generation and invites them to further explore
their archives. Our key technical contributions include identifying answers
and clues that are likely to be meaningful, using heuristics such as sentiment

We attempt to understand users behavior with these puzzles, such as what parts
of their archives are most meaningful and fun to them: for example, messages
exchanged with a close-knit group or a special person, messages within a
particular time period, or those related to a particular topic. We study research
questions such as: How do users react to being reminded of significant events
in their past? How does the experience of solving personal crosswords compare
with the experience of solving regular ones? Can personal archives be a
valuable tool for memory exercises? Can gamification be a way of turning an
overwhelming volume of archival material into a fun experience that gradually
draws people in?

“All Your Bits Aren’t Belong To Us: Opportunities and Challenges of Personally Revealing Information in Digital Collections,” Matt Kirschenbaum, Cal Lee, Naomi Nelson, and Kam Woods

Collections of personal artifacts “ whether they’re analog or digital “ tend to contain a lot of information that is personally revealing. Their ability to reflect the details, perceptions and experiences of everyday life is precisely why personal collections can be such rich and valuable resources for researchers. Librarians and archivists who are responsible for managing and providing access to personal collections have long had to balance the interests of access to revealing information with the interests of those whose lives are represented in the materials and may wish to control or restrict access to parts of collections.

Collecting personal digital archives presents unprecedented opportunities to support future research about current lives. Not only can institutions collect materials from a much wider set of individuals than they have in the past, but the materials themselves also can reveal many more details about the events and actors involved in their creation. Digital information is stored and disseminated at many different levels of representation – from the physical traces on a hard drive all the way up to the rendering of documents in particular applications and aggregation of content into new types of collections. Each level of representation constitutes a different type of digital traces left behind by human activities. Archivists and librarians must make a variety of decisions about how to capture, manage, preserve and provide access (or not) to the traces. These decisions are matters of professional ethics.

This panel will address issues of identifying, processing, redacting and providing/restricting access to potentially sensitive information in personal digital collections. Panelists will come at the issues from a variety of perspectives: addressing professional ethical frameworks, technological tools and approaches, and practical experiences in working with personal archives.

“Connecting Local & Family History with Personal Digital Archiving: Findings from Studies in Four Midwestern Public Libraries,” Noah Lenstra

This paper explores how local and family history services in public libraries overlap with personal digital archiving. The theory used to connect these two domains come from Folklore studies, particularly Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimbletts work on indigenous modes of life review, which she defines as the social construction of the self through time and the transformation of experience through materials readily at hand. This theory helps us understand how individuals use materials and resources found at through public libraries in the processes of constructing personal identities and personal digital archives. The methods used to explore this topic are focus groups and ethnography. In Spring 2012, I organized three workshops with three public libraries on the topic of Digital Local and Family History. Findings from the workshops are extended in an ongoing ethnographic study at a local history archives in a fourth public library. The individuals that participated in these studies use public libraries both to construct their own personal digital archives, and to construct archives of families and local communities. For many participants, the boundaries among personal, familial and local archives and identities are indeterminate. All participants want to transform their analog archives into digital archives. In this process, they struggle through multiple issues: a) acquiring digital literacy, b) concerns with privacy, copyright and financial costs, and c) feeling overwhelmed by multiple options. To navigate these issues the individuals turn to local, trusted resources. For many participants, Facebook and have emerged as tools that revolutionize the process of building personal, familial and local digital archives. I conclude by discussing the implications of this study for public pedagogy, programming and technology design around digital personal archiving, in public libraries and elsewhere.

“Public Displays of Affection: Digital Zine Archives and the Labor of Love,” Melissa Rogers

As self-published print culture artifacts distributed through small-scale networks and informal gift economies, zines pose unique and well-documented challenges not only to traditional archivists but also to those interested in digital preservation. Often of uncertain provenance, nonstandard size and shape, and a wide range of materials, zines are a medium that combines do-it-yourself (DIY) ethics with cut-and-paste aesthetics, defying formal conventions (and copyright laws) in order to tell intimately personal stories that rarely appear in mainstream media venues. Zines are increasingly receiving scholarly attention as sources of queer, antiracist, and feminist theorizing as well as vehicles for community activism. Consequently, they are finding more or less permanent homes in university libraries and databases, private as well as community-run archives, and most recently, in digital formats on websites dedicated to making this ephemeral form widely available, accessible, and durable. This presentation surveys recent debates on collective and individual efforts to digitally preserve zines in order to elaborate on the pitfalls and potentials of translating this vibrant mode of self-archiving into online spaces. In doing so, it seeks to challenge the widespread assumption that converting zines into digital formats and circulating them online makes them somehow less authentic, meaningful, or capable of creating the kinds of affective interpersonal relationships than the printed artifact. It also suggests a methodology for approaching, building, and utilizing digital zine archives, asking: Whom do they benefit? What is at stake in digitizing these hybrid cultural products whose primary mode of engagement is materiality and ephemerality? How do the ethical concerns involved in archiving zines change in an online environment? What are some models for effective digital zine archiving? And finally, how might zines interrupt or reconfigure our assumptions around what archives are and what they do, forcing us to grapple with archiving as a labor of love?

“Hardware and soft skills: surveying scientific personal papers in the digital age,” Jenny Shaw

Digital material poses different challenges for archivists than its hardcopy equivalents. The long-term challenges of preservation are frequently considered, however the process of surveying potential digital acquisitions is often overlooked. Effective software tools that can be run in situ are necessary when undertaking surveys of personal digital content; however these are just part of the solution. Programs that can run on creators machines within a sensible timeframe must be accompanied by many of the softer skills that archivists have spent their careers honing. The ability to develop productive relationships with depositors has always been essential, but has really been highlighted by working with digital material. The different attitude that creators have about their digital material means that building trust is as important to the process as building tools.

The Human Genome Archive Project (HGAP) aims to preserve the archival legacy of one of the most important scientific achievements of the twentieth century. In the UK, a survey of material created between 1977 and 2004 relating to the sequencing of the human genome is currently underway. In recognition of the collaborative nature of modern science, this survey is challenging traditional approaches to scientific archives which have tended to focus retrospectively on the great men who have won prestigious awards, such as the Nobel Prize.

As a consequence, one of the main challenges facing the survey is that most records are still held by individual scientists or research groups, which do not have well organized record-keeping structures or experience of caring for archival material. Additionally, due to the era of the Human Genome Project, many of these records are in digital format making them more vulnerable than their hardcopy equivalents. This paper will draw on the experience of the HGAP to examine current issues in surveying digital and hardcopy scientific personal papers.

“Projections of Life: Prewar Jewish Life on Film,” Leslie Swift and Lindsay Zarwell

Although the Holocaust Museums Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive acquires film footage from archives all over the world, some of our most important sources of film are individuals who donate their private home movies. These films “ amounting to about 50 hours from 60 different collections “ offer perspectives and subject coverage that is often missing from the official or commercial canon. Home movies convey intimacy and familiarity, and have a special way of connecting people to the past. The staff of the Archive has created a 30 minute compilation showcasing these unique amateur films.

The Holocaust Museum’s home movie collections illustrate the vibrancy and diversity of the prewar Jewish experience across Europe. These amateur films not only depict what the Nazis destroyed, but also reclaim the image of the Jew from the Nazis. In a book recently published by the Holocaust Museum called Jewish Responses to Persecution, historians Juergen Matthaeus and Mark Roseman write that, Contemporary [Jewish sources] can recover the agency and subjectivity of those too often seen merely as the recipients of Nazi policy. They can rescue the diversity and individuality of millions of women, men, and children whom their tormentors tried to treat as the faceless, undifferentiated Jew. “

This reclaiming of identity was an explicit part of our goal in creating this compilation. While the silent films play, one of the creators of the compilation reads details about the lives and fates of those pictured. Our archives are used extensively by filmmakers and exhibition curators, among others, to illustrate the lives of Jews before the war in a broad and often generic sense. While we encourage access to our films for these projects, we see this compilation as an opportunity to reunite the unique stories of individuals with the beautiful images they filmed.

“The Many Faces of the Fat Man: A Case Study of a Multi-Faceted Personal Digital Archive,” Zach Vowell

The George Sanger Papers form a unique case study in personal digital archiving. As a freelance audio composer for videogames, Mr. Sanger, also known professionally as The Fat Man, amassed a large amount of digital content during the late 1980s “ 2000s. Not only did he create and find it necessary to retain large quantities of files, he stored these files on a wide variety of media, at least nine types all requiring different drives to access them.

Furthermore, the files contained on these media represent either complex digital objects or require obscure software to render them. Some of the MIDI files, for instance, were originally experienced by game players on PC platforms equipped with a Roland MT-32 sound module “ accordingly, Sanger has suggested that the archive consider recording a historical re-creation of the original sounds by feeding the MIDI through the original module. Many of Sangers audio files were created by Cakewalk, a long-defunct audio recording software. Several sets of back-up disks remain, for now, locked away in the proprietary compression algorithm that originally created the snapshot of his computers. And then theres Sangers Eudora email account, which was donated on two CDs.

On the other hand, it could have been worse. As this digital archive represented part of Sangers freelance business assets, he was invested enough to organize his digital media so that they arrived at the Briscoe Center for American History in an intelligible (if overwhelming) manner. Also, Sanger has been helpful in migrating content from some of the more tricky media formats, donating drives to read the media formats in some cases.

The proposed paper will explore these challenges and advantages in fuller depth, and will attempt to provide some lessons learned during donor relations, media migration, and attempts to facilitate self-archiving.

“Narrative Searching Through a Scholar’s Email Archive,” Jason Matthew Zalinger and Nathan G. Freier

When you don’t know what you are looking for, how do you find it? This question drove the initial motivation for this ongoing, digital archival project. This presentation describes techniques for finding narrative elements in the archived email of a scholar. The goal is to describe a narrative approach to searching using a 15-year email archive containing nearly 45,000 messages containing over 4,000 relationships belonging to University of Maryland Professor Ben Shneiderman and ranging from 1984-1998. The goal is not to find complete narratives (although, many do exist) but to search for narrative elements, the building blocks that make up a narrative. Thus, narrative search is defined as both a set of search techniques and a way of thinking like a storyteller that allows designers and users to uncover narrative elements. We argue that narrative search is a promising strategy that can be productively applied to other email archives. This project makes a contribution to the growing field of Personal Digital Archiving by showing that a narrative approach to search can produce compelling results. By encouraging designers (and users) to think like storytellers, we can create robust interfaces that help users make narrative sense out of overwhelming amounts of messages. It should also be noted that Shneiderman”like any careful professional”was always aware that my emails could become public or fall into some unexpected recipients hands, so I was fairly careful in self censoring, or at least cautious in sending notes that could be problematic. Regardless, the archive contained fascinating, and often highly personal and emotional exchanges. This presentation focuses on the professional, but often it is the personal that seemed to yield the best results using narrative search techniques. This talk will conclude with a series of lessons learned that we believe will help designers build powerful, intuitive narrative-archival systems.


Lightning Talks

“The Library of Congress Personal Digital Archiving Videos,” Mike Ashenfelder

 The educational resources of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library of Congress include several videos created to help educate the general public about personal digital archiving. Titles that I will look at in my lightning talk are Adding Descriptions to Digital Photos: Your Gift to the Future, about adding photometadata to photos; K-12 Web Archiving: Preserving the Present, America’s Young Archivists and Web Archiving about web archiving and how kids and teens relate to it; Why Digital Preservation is Important for You, which lays out the complete case for what personal digital archiving is and the steps people can follow to archive their own stuff; and Digital Natives Explore Digital Preservation, about a group of high-school students who ponder the meaning of digital preservation. The value of these resources is demonstrated by the organizations who link to them, such as the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, the University of Michigan, the University of Alabama Libraries and the American Library Association.

“Personal Artifacting,” Jan Emery

Archivists have an opportunity to inform the actions of individuals around preserving their personal collections; however, they risk losing this opportunity because the collections of ordinary citizens are broader than the traditional conceptualization of archival content. I argue for the extension of the concept of personal archiving to include what I call personal artifacting, which reflects the fact that these ordinary citizens do not distinguish between documents and three-dimensional objects as archivists do. Citizens views of their collections are holistic. Current archival definitions, theory and discussions (including Beattie (2009), Cox (2008), Hobbs (2001), Kirk and Sellen (2010), Pearce-Moses (2005)) move tantalizingly close to the possibility of records beyond the two-dimensional, but stop short. Artifacts not only function as records, but accrue significant social meaning within a personal collection. Artifactual value is based not only on physical or aesthetic characteristics, but on social and cultural content. As the significance of archival records is dependent on the context of their creation, so is the significance of artifacts dependent on the social and familial context of their creation, and importantly, the continuing custodial care they receive. In this presentation I advocate for stretching archival concepts such as record, value, and provenance toward a more inclusive stance that acknowledges social meaning and material practices. I argue for a conceptualization of personal archiving that encompasses the full range of materials found in personal and family archives, including three-dimensional artifacts and digital hybrids. The concept of personal artifacting broadens our conception of personal archives and points the way for archivists to bring archival theory out of the archives and into the service of a broader community.


Beattie, Heather. 2009. Where narratives meet: Archival description, provenance, and womens diaries. Libraries & the Cultural Record, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 82-100.

Cox, Richard J. 2008. Personal archives and a new archival calling. Duluth, Minnesota: Litwin Books.

Hobbs, Catherine. 2001. Personal archives: The character of personal archives: Reflections on the value of records of individuals. Archivaria 52, pp. 126-135.

Kirk, David S. and Sellen, Abigail. 2010. On human remains: Values and practice in the home archiving of cherished objects. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 17(3), Article 10, 43 pages,

Pearce-Moses, Richard. 2005. A glossary of archival and records terminology. Society of American Archivists.

“We’ve Thought Globally, Now Let’s Act Locally,” Erin Engle

The Library of Congress has held personal digital archiving day outreach events over the past few years. Weve found that individuals have little knowledge or experience saving or preserving their digital information of personal value — such as digital photos, audiovisual files, email, personal electronic documents and social media content. At these events, we provide the public with the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Programs personal digital archiving guidance and supplemental resources.

While we’ve held personal archiving events that are broad in scope and reach, we recognize that public libraries and archives are in a better position locally to connect directly with their communities. By providing their patrons with clear, simple, non-technical steps about preserving their personal digital collections, libraries and archives are creating a great outreach opportunity and sharing valuable information.

In an effort to communicate digital preservation at the local level, NDIIPP developed The Personal Digital Archiving Day Kit. Its a toolkit of resources aimed at libraries, archives and other cultural institutions staff, providing them with information about planning and holding a personal digital archiving day program. This lightning talk will discuss the resources included in the kit, how it could be used, and why holding a personal digital archiving program is beneficial for public libraries and archives.

“Collect Yourself: Data Storage Centers as the Archive’s Underbelly,” Mél Hogan

As the quintessential personal digital archive, Facebook no longer requires an introduction; its user-base is currently estimated at one billion active monthly profiles, give or take a few fake accounts. On the front end, its the epitome of the user-generated content platform and of the postmodern living archive. Its underbelly, however, remains much less explored and theorized (Miller, 2006; Bennet 2010). Academic research on Facebook has instead addressed: urgent policy, privacy, and surveillance concerns (Cohen 2008; Shepherd 2012); ownership of user-generated content and its commodification through big data (boyd and Crawford 2011); and identity and user behaviour analyses (Marshall 2012), to offer a few examples in a growing body of literature dedicated to Facebook. Within the scholarship, as within journalism and blogging, Facebooks growth is rarely discussed in terms of the very machines used to manage perpetual user requests: the servers. Even Wikipedia fails to make mention of the sites data centers.

In relation to Facebooks material management of personal archive data, several questions remain: What kinds of servers are required to host such large amounts of ˜free information, offering up data so rapidly, across so many platforms? How does Facebook’s advertising strategy inform how power is pulled from the grid? How do these servers function? How are they powered? How many are there? Where are they located? Taken together, these pragmatic questions inform an important theoretical intervention: these dislocated servers–existing in “”enterprise zones”" and arctic hideaways–not only effectively blind us to the potential environmental costs of our everyday obsession with self-archiving, but also demand a serious revision of the preservation ideals that underpin the archive.

In my presentation, I will offer up a series of provocations about data storage centers, as the archives underbelly, with the intent of reconnecting Facebook to the bodies and machines that enable it, and the ideals that inform it.

“The virtual presence of others and the presentation of self in personal digital archives,” Sarah Kim

During my research about personal digital archiving practices, I asked participants if they would be willing at the end of their lives or after they die for their personal digital collections to be donated to memory institutions, such as local historical societies or collecting archives. The donation of personal documents to memory institutions is slightly different from leaving behind personal digital collections for family members or close friends. First, the donated documents become objects that might be extensively accessed and used by unknown audiences (i.e., total strangers) for various research purposes. Second, the donation requires a deliberate and intentional action of handing over personal documents to a third party who aims to preserve and make them available for a long time. Therefore, thinking about the donation situation is particularly interesting because it allows us to explore the interaction between private self (I) and public self (me) and between oneself and others in personal digital archiving. In this research presentation, I would like to share what I heard from my participants and discuss themes that emerged during the data analysis, using Sociologist Goffmans ideas (e.g., Impression Management) as references.

“Achievements as Personal Archives of Memory and Experience in Open World Video Games,” Nigel Lepianka

Video games and gaming systems have evolved over the years several methods of file and character preservation: password codes, save states, and checkpoints all represent methods of digital record keeping that are standard features of gaming. Yet with the internet and the advent of online gaming, some of these features were impractical; for open-world, sandbox-style games which were not compatible with mechanics like save states because the game could not be suspended, there was an issue with how players would access their experiences retroactively. Online games such as World of Warcraft or systems such as Steam or Xbox Live have found a solution to this issue in the achievement system, where players are rewarded for their progress and experiences in a game, with both private and public implications.

This talk will discuss the nature of the achievement system, using World of Warcraft as the example of a game with an extensive digital history and an expansive achievement system, and will demonstrate the system as an effective form of personal archiving in a virtual world by adding an acknowledgement for inhabiting and working within the game world. By framing the discussion of achievements in terms of metaphors of reading and book materiality, the system will be demonstrated to be a significant and relevant form of providing access to previous moments in both the players and the games life. Material phenomenon such as palimpsests will be used to explain the way achievements reveal a games erasure and revision, and methods of marking progress will be explored via comparison to bookmarking or indexing. Finally, the player-driven accumulation of achievements and quantifiable properties of the system will be explained by comparing the role of private libraries to ones personal and public appearance.

“Memories Lost & Found: How Digital Memories Can Help Those With Alzheimers and Their Caregivers,” Philip von Stade

Alzheimers Avalanche:
As we age, there is a growing sense of urgency to preserve our ability to remember. It is often first brought home when older family members start to forget. In millions of cases it is the more dramatic deterioration brought on by Alzheimer’s and related dementia. There are 5.5 million people with Alzheimer’s in the US today, and the number is escalating rapidly. While the impact on society is immense, the impact on caregiver families is often devastating.

Autobiographic Memory:
There are many insidious cognitive declines that occur in Alzheimer’s, but perhaps none is so dreaded as losing knowledge of one’s own life events, and memories of our family and friends – the very basis of ‘who’ we are. There have been numerous breakthroughs in understanding how the brain uses specific and broad-based networks of neurons to map memories. And the concept of neural plasticity opens the way for memories to be rebuilt, even as old cells and synapses are diseased or inhibited.

Medical & Nutritional Solutions:
Huge efforts are being made in the areas of medicine and nutrition. But the costs are huge, the results have been difficult to prove, and the long term interactions will take many years to understand. Meantime, we need to cope and, where possible, improve the life quality of not only those with memory loss, but their families and caregivers.

Yes, it’s all about the stories! Images, like old family photos, can kickstart a conversation, and the number of stories that can come out of one photo is quite fantastic, filled with details and memories that go way beyond the actual photo’s contents. Preserving and curating those stories is a complex challenge. It is critical to make the process easy and attractive to the family-caregivers. But, most important, how can these images and stories help those with failing memories? And their families?

My talk will discuss the issues, research, solutions that have been tried, successes and failures, and those that are being worked on today.



“Who Will Save the Savegames?,” Rachel Donahue

The simplest way to describe archives is as the valuable records created in the course of an activity. Whenever we write an email, take a picture, or pay a bill, a record is created (whether a particular record is valuable or not, in personal archives, is up to the creator). When we watch a movie or go to an event, the ticket stub serves as our evidence of attendance and may be used to spark a memory long after the event. Numerous guides exist to preserving these types of record, but few exist for preserving an increasingly common past-time: playing videogames. Many videogames offer the ability to save your progress, but how do we save the savegames? In particular, how do we save the savegames of third and fourth generation consoles, which are dependent on batteries for storage and specialized hardware for access? This poster demonstrates the use of community-created hardware to access NES and SNES cartridge saves on a personal computer. Once the savegame is in a media-neutral format, it can be accessed in an emulator without worrying about battery life or vintage hardware repairs.

“A DIY Guide for Digital Preservation,” Erika Farr and Dorothy Waugh

Whereas archivists traditionally have been accustomed to their involvement in personal archives beginning late in the lives, or even after the death, of the creator, the increasing amount of digital materials now contained within these collections demands earlier interactions between archivists and potential donors. Unlike predominantly paper-based archives, ongoing accessibility to digital content relies on the availability of hardware and software that can quickly become obsolete. Failure to sufficiently save and backup data can lead to its permanent loss, while, conversely, the ease with which data can be distributed across computers, networks, social media applications, and the Cloud can lead to difficulties both in identifying where portions of the archive are stored and in ascertaining ownership of the material. Whats more, privacy issues are complicated by the shared spaces afforded by digital environments.
This poster will identify a set of sound yet approachable data management activities content creators can undertake prior to the transfer of their digital archives to repositing institutions. Archives stand to acquire higher quality and more extensive digital collections if the data has been effectively managed and backed-up prior to transfer. The poster will outline practical advice on naming and organizing files, choosing formats best suited for long-term viability, data backup, management of email and social media accounts, understanding intellectual property rights and privacy issues associated with digital content, and overseeing the careful administration of data. Similarly, the poster will touch on the benefits of keeping old hardware and the possibilities of creating a digital estate. These recommendations build on Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories, a set of recommendations soon to be published by an international working group of curators and digital archivists, including archival staff from Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

“Improving Institutional Repository Usage by means of Personal Repositories,” James C. French, Allison L. Powell, Benjamin S. Hadden, Thien-Huong (Emily) Tran, and Kelly Croswell

The INSPIRE project, a collaboration between the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the University of Virginia Library, has the goal of increasing the usage of institutional repositories by teaming them with an individuals personal repository.

While we regard a personal repository as an arbitrary collection organized according to individual idiosyncrasy, our current focus is on that part of a personal repository associated with ones academic pursuits. We have chosen the structure of a curriculum vitae as a convenient and intuitive user interface into this subcollection of a personal repository.

This demonstration will show how we use the CV as an interface layer to federate holdings, both literature and data, of multiple institutional repositories and publisher repositories into a convenient and useful form. This interface layer allows users to update the contents of their personal repository and to display, filter, and share their CV with others. We will also show how this interface to the personal repository can be used to capture intellectual outputs of faculty and students for submission into an institutional repository when that is appropriate. Finally, we will outline a series of value-added services made possible by our CV representation. We believe that the CV interface and representation combined with the value-added services will motivate faculty and student participation, with the end result that utilization of institutional repositories is increased.

“Where in the clouds? An Exploration of Cloud Storage, Personal Archiving, and Place,” Gloria Gonzalez

This poster explores relationships between the geography of personal cloud computing services and users. A geographical survey of popular photo and document services can provide a sense of place for those (knowingly or unknowingly) utilizing the cloud to store and share personal digital files. The understanding that users of cloud storage and social media services have of where their files are is indeed foggy, resulting partly from the cloud metaphor used to describe the large data centers used by service providers. As cloud computing usage becomes commonplace and personal digital file storage locations are physically separated from their creators, it is important for users to have an understanding of the geographical distances between their digital materials and themselves. Knowing the geographical location of cloud storage can both provide insight into the physicality of the cloud and prevent benign neglect by addressing the issue of out of sight, out of mind. Where in the clouds? An Exploration of Cloud Storage, Personal Files, and Place aims to demonstrate that a clear sense of place can contribute to active and informed personal digital archiving in the cloud.

“Timebox: Helping you preserve your digital history for yourself and posterity,” Mary Ellen Heinen and Len Kawell

The Timebox personal history archive app from Pepper Networks, LLC, is for collecting and organizing your stories and the related digital things such as photos that are associated with those stories.

Timebox provides a straightforward UI consisting of customizable categories and templates; data import from the web, computers and devices; category, timeline or yearbook views; all or partial sharing via email, Facebook and Twitter and multi-device sync, storage and cloud backup.

Knowing that cloud services from the biggest companies come and go, Timebox also provides a simple way for long-lasting digital “”artifacts”" to be created. Using the ISO-standard PDF as our digital artifact format, Timebox enables you to generate and share PDF artifacts that are single pages or entire ebooks.

Although PDF appears to be a good choice for longevity, someday it may ultimately be replaced by another format and the software and hardware available to read PDFs may no longer be available.

For this reason, we have future plans to support two kinds of human-readable physical artifacts: paper and metal.

Since paper has proven to be a very long-lasting medium, we are working on a future update that will enable you to easily generate archival-quality printed books from your Timebox.

Although paper is long-lasting, metal artifacts have always provided the ultimate in longevity. For that reason we are also working on making it easy to generate laser-etched metal objects with the stories and photos from your Timebox. Our hope is that these metal artifacts will be enjoyable to display and share today, and readable by future generations and even possibly future civilizations.

Timebox became available on October 8, 2012. We will demo the app, discuss what we have learned so far and where we are headed.

“Making Enterprise-Level Archive Tools Accessible for Personal Web Archiving Using XAMPP,” Mat Kelly, Michele C. Weigle, and Michael L. Nelson

The Heritrix web crawler and the Wayback Machine web archive are the de facto standards within the web preservation community. Unfortunately, the power and complexity of tools that are suitable for enterprise-level use have put them beyond the reach of most small-scale or personal digital archiving projects. Using Apache XAMPP, we have created a cross-platform, easy-to-install software distribution that simplifies the installation, use, and maintenance. Reusing the XAMPP package in this way allows casual archivists without technical training to use the enterprise-level tools through simple GUI interaction rather than resorting to command-line access or the requirement of server-grade hardware. This presentation will demonstrate how a general user wishing to preserve and replay content can easily do so with little technical knowledge or effort.

“Copyright Conundrums for Your Personal Digital Archives,” Stephen Marvin

Personal Digital Archiving, in addition to technical requirements to provide access and content, should also place considerable weight on the use and protection of intellectual property. Often, the intellectual property questions take place at the end of the process. By solving the copyright questions in advance, you will inaugurate your Personal Digital Archive without fear. Lessons from digital archiving experiences will be shared. Dont be lost about appropriately using content to enhance your archive nor fear others may use your archive for personal gain. Within this short time frame, the presentation will reply to typical questions regarding copyright and related intellectual property. Presentation will also provide an explanation of Fair Use and how it may be claimed under certain conditions while creating your personal archive. A walk through, step-by-step, sample example evaluating the four factors of Fair Use and related degree of compliance will be applied. Finally, the presentation will address questions on providing your permission of use of items in your personal archive. What sort of conditions, agreements would you allow? How would you stop others from taking your personal archive?

Can you blog, use FaceBook and Twitter to enhance the access to your personal archive while protecting or tracking use? Presentation will quickly mention techniques to know how to apply Fair Use and promote the use of your material while at the same time protecting your material under various licensing rights. Special considerations for Art (images), Music (sound) and performing arts (video) will also be discussed.
The Internet has provisions known as Safe Harbor conditions to allow others claiming ownership to take down items posted to the Web. You may also formally object to any take down orders by applying the four factors of Fair Use. What is the fifth factor?

“The BitCurator Environment: Using Digital Forensics Tools for Born-Digital Curation,” Porter Olsen and Alex Chassanoff

In this poster we introduce some of the key functionalities supported by the BitCurator project, an open source suite of digital forensics (DF) tools compiled and enhanced for the digital curation community. BitCurator is a joint effort led by the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (SILS) and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and seeks to address the common needs of archivists working with an increasing array of born-digital materials.

BitCurator’s principle design philosophy is that the tools we bring to the digital archiving community should support existing digital curation workflows, thereby ensuring that the project has a clear “”real-world”" applicability. This poster centers on work done by the BitCurator team to map out common practices in existing born-digital curation workflows, and shows how DF tools and methodologies can be incorporated to support these practices. This poster will address four key areas of digital curation workflows: 1) forensics level disk imaging; 2) early data analysis and triage; 3) Personally Identifiable Information (PII) identification and redaction; and 4) Metadata extraction and reporting. We will also make a demo system available so that viewers can see the BitCurator environment in action.

As archivists begin to seriously tackle the challenges of archiving born-digital materials, both personal and institutional, they will need enhanced tools to address the unique needs posed by our digital ephemera. Rather than start from square one, we seek to show how digital archivists can leverage tools developed within the DF community to address the practical, real-world challenges posed by born-digital materials. This poster identifies a number of those tools and shows how they map onto the critical work being done at collecting institutions.

“Content, Context, Containers: Problems Preserving A Decade Old Blog,” Brian Rogers

 This paper addresses issues the author faced upon deciding to preserve and archive a personal blog hosted through a third party product. Three areas needed to be addressed. The first was the content of the blog itself: text, images, hyperlinks. The second was the context of the blog: formatting issues, how commenting should be categorized, time stamps and other contextual clues as to its existence on the internet. The third issue was that of the container: how the blog, a born digital object, should be kept and maintained. A number of solutions were researched and executed in conjunction with third party services: exporting local copies of the blog, printing bound copies through self-publishing ventures, and saving the blog across various storage media. The difficulties inherent in pursuing these paths underscore the need to figure out more palatable means of self-archiving for individuals who might not possess the persistence of know-how, before greater preservation issues arise.

“A Survey of Research Prospects for More Manageable Personal Digital Photo Collections,” Nicholas Taylor

Photos are among the most treasured objects in our personal archives, but we relate differently to our digital photos than to our analog ones. In the era of film cameras and print photos, the figurative shoebox of storage signified the deliberateness with which we used to take photos, a manageably small collection of photos that we actually cared about, and a discrete container of artifacts that could be passed onto the next generation. This stands in contrast to the nonchalance with which we now proliferate digital photos; we create them almost incidentally, and personal digital photo collections are both distributed and unmanageably large.

The hallmarks of this new status quo are ubiquitous camera-augmented devices, practically limitless storage, and new modes of photo distribution. Standalone cameras are but one of many tools for generating photos today; there are also mobile phones, tablet computers, laptops, desktop monitors, and, soon, even eyeglasses. The ratio between the file size of decent-quality digital photos and the growth of storage capacity means that the casual shooter is no longer practically limited in the number of photos they can take, and so the cognitive cost of curating photos begins to perceptibly outweigh the monetary cost of storing them. Social media platforms either treat photos as ephemeral communication tools or situate them in a longer temporal context than the platforms themselves will plausibly exist.

These developments have been accompanied by concomitant advancements in facial recognition, geotagging, social annotation, and metadata standards, but there is still significant room for improvement. How can we make sense of our newly-vast and decreasingly-coherent personal digital photo collections in the way that the figurative shoebox used to be? We need new tools and techniques for organization, access, and discovery.

As a personal digital archivist with a mixed collection of 15,000+ born-digital and digitized photos spanning twenty-three years of my life, I constantly re-evaluate available tools for better curating and making sense of them. In this paper and talk, I will present some of the principles Ive learned from working with my own collection as well as prospects from the research for augmented or increasingly automated approaches to person identification, geotagging, metadata annotation, and visualization.

“Preserving Personal Digital Files,” Sarah Wingo

Our professional and personal documents serve as vital links to the past. While these documents have traditionally been tangible objects, much of the information we create is now digital and must be preserved using different methods.

A common trend within much traditional archival literature is that archives do not tend to recognize personal files as archival material. This concept is addressed in I, Digital Personal Collections in the Digital Era, edited by Christopher A. Lee, and there appears to be a push within the archival community to try to find ways to better include personal files with traditional archival materials. Along with this attempt to include personal digital files comes the necessity to teach individuals how to better care for their files throughout their own lifetimes. In the digital age where persons of interest such as authors and other public figures now create most of their files electronically, failure by file creators to properly look after electronic files can mean that by the time they reach a repository they are no longer renderable.

This poster will outline the basic steps that an individual can take to preserve their personal digital files and focuses on: Identify, Decide, Organize, and Backup a method developed by the Library of Congress that can be used whether you want to preserve documents, photos, email, personal records, audio recordings, or videos.

“The Persistence of Personal Correspondence and Its Organizational Features: From Traditional Mail to Electronic Mail,” Jane Zhang

Correspondence is an important documentary form of personal records. Generally defined as written or printed communications to, from or about a correspondent or subject, correspondence differs from other documentary forms in several aspects. It normally pertains to an individual, organization, or place; covers a certain period of time; relates to one subject or a few subjects; and results in a series of mutual communications (outgoing or incoming). Each of those features has a direct bearing on the way correspondence is organized, retrieved, and preserved by individuals as well as archival repositories.

Organization of physical personal correspondence has a history that can be traced back to the colonial time in this country. Since the second half of the 20th century, electronic mail systems have been developed that revolutionizes the creation and transmission of personal written communication and correspondence. In terms of organizational features, however, personal electronic mail seems to experience no major breakthrough from the systems developed for organizing traditional personal correspondence. This implies that correspondence as a unique documentary form has some persistent characteristics that may transcend its carrier media. This study is designed to explore the persistence of organizational features of correspondence and its implications in personal correspondence recordkeeping and collective archiving activities.

The study starts with a sample review of traditional correspondence organization systems. The purpose of the historical review is to identify the major types of physical correspondence organizational structures and the essential elements in the correspondence documentary form that dictate those organizational features. The results of the historical analysis will be used as a framework to review the organizational features of major commercial electronic mail systems. The final findings are expected to highlight the consistent features identified in both physical and electronic organization systems and discuss to what extent the persistent characteristics of personal correspondence can be utilized to enhance digital personal recordkeeping and archiving.

 ”Workflow as Work-In-Progress,” Moryma Aydelott

Digital preservation best practices provide guidance but are only the starting point in developing a workflow that can actually work at your institution, with its technology, time and budget. Additional flexibility is required when your project involves multiple curatorial divisions, obsolete media, exotic file types, and only the staff and tools you can borrow or scrape together.

With less than one FTE and no dedicated budget, the Tangible Media project at the Library of Congress is such a project. For the last two years, over the course of transferring and backing up hundreds of titles and terabytes of sometimes decades-old data, the project has been working to develop a generic workflow for transfer, aggregation, inventory, supplemental metadata creation, access, and long term storage that can be used across the organization. The path for developing something that will work for the unique media and files, varied organizational cultures, that can be taught to and retained by periodic staff, and can take advantage of new technical developments has been an difficult one.

This talk will share the evolution of workflow steps and tools for Tangible Media projects, beginning with leveraging whatever tools were at hand and with collaboration with other Library of Congress groups moving onto discovering and using tools and methods that deliver better results more efficiently. It will outline multiple methods we’ve used and continue to use to accomplish the same functional steps, what spurred the change to something new, and why we in some cases maintain multiple workflows for a group. It will address training and technology necessary to bring new tools in, and how we keep an open search for even better solutions. Finally, the talk will cover benefits of, issues with, and lessons learned from supporting multiple methods of carrying out similar tasks, including when it can save or derail a project.


More information about the program for PDA 2013 will continue to be added to this page. Program information current as of 2013-01-25