Personal Digital Archiving Update: Software Tools and Systems: Many Materials That Individuals Wish to Archive Are Not in Digital Form, So a Major Aspect of PDA Is the Digitization Process for Photos or Documents

By Hawkins, Donald T. | Computers in Libraries, July-August 2016 | Go to article overview

Personal Digital Archiving Update: Software Tools and Systems: Many Materials That Individuals Wish to Archive Are Not in Digital Form, So a Major Aspect of PDA Is the Digitization Process for Photos or Documents


Hawkins, Donald T., Computers in Libraries


Interest in personal digital archiving (PDA) continues to grow as awareness of the importance of personal information and the desire to preserve our digital heritage become more widespread. In many fields, commercial organizations are quick to see opportunities to develop services, and PDA is no exception to this. Attention librarians! There's an opportunity for you in this too: the chance to use your skills to help your patrons manage their personal or professional digital heritage. Talk about a useful service.

In this article, I update some of the information I first presented in the book Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage (Information Today, 2013, books.infotoday .com/books/personal-archiving.shtml), particularly items in Chapters 4 and 5 relating to software tools and digital legacies. (You can also see my article in Computers in Libraries', November 2013, pp. 30-33.)

Background

For those who may be unfamiliar with PDA, it refers to how individuals (not organizations, such as corporations or libraries) create, store, and manage their digital files. Photos are the most frequently archived media because of the following:

* The ubiquity of smartphones with cameras has put the capability of rapidly and easily amassing a large collection of photos into the hands of millions of people.

* Collections of photos from ancestors, often housed in albums or boxes with little or no organization, are frequently handed down from one generation to another.

Many materials that individuals wish to archive are not in digital form, so a major aspect of PDA is the digitization process for photos or documents.

With the increase in popularity of online genealogy sites, interest in preserving family history has grown. It is important to understand that PDA is not genealogy--although it plays a part--and it is not simply backing up files from one's computer or smartphone. PDA involves creating files with descriptive information (metadata), storing them for a long time, and providing access to them as necessary. Major reasons for PDA include preservation, security, and control of the material; its organization; and the desire to leave a legacy. Preservation is often the strongest driving force because duplicate copies of family and ancestral photos rarely exist, so there is a risk of valuable history being lost in the case of a disaster.

For further information on PDA, see the Library of Congress' excellent Digital Preservation site (digitalpreservation.gov/per sonalarchiving). It includes a good illustration of how one family's archive was created (blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/ 2012/07/one-familys-personal-digitalarchives-project).

Software Tools and Systems Update

Here, I update the status of the software tools and systems for PDA that are mentioned in Personal Archiving. They are listed in the order in which they appeared in the book.

* 1000memories was acquired by ancestry.com. Its Shoebox service (derived from the phrase "Grandma's shoebox") has been turned into an app that creates digital files from photos taken with a smartphone. It has the capability to edit, enhance, date, and tag them, storing them in the user's account on the ancestry.com site. The app is freely available from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

* Lifemap is undergoing an extensive updating and revision process and is temporarily unavailable.

* Timebox has been upgraded to Version 4.0 and is freely available in the Apple App Store. There is still no Android version available. A user can now add story titles from his or her calendar as well as searchable tags, captions, details, and places. It can stitch together photos, videos, and Live Photos, and create a shareable video or a PDF file to keep, share, and print. Stories can be synchronized to all iOS devices with iCloud. Several new features were introduced in the latest version. …

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