Personal archives and personal digital archiving

Personal archives or fonds are entireties of records created and accumulated by individuals during their lives. They differ from institutional archives because they are more “archives of character” according to C. Hobbs (2001) than institutional repositories of records archived for their transactional value. As Eastwood (2016) stated, private archives should meet “the individual’s proclivities and needs”.

Accumulation of digital personal records and content exceeds the capacities of the archival community which should advise the creators or help them organize their archives. The archivists could not support the creators of personal archives enough during the creation of their archives, and there is a danger of losing the content. We know today that public institutions are creating just a part of future memory and that private records creators accumulate socially and culturally relevant archival materials too. It adds a severity to the risk of losing potentially valuable archival holdings. Will we be able to deliver our legacy to the future generations?

It’s time to change our approach to personal archives because they are different from the typical fonds that archivists process and because their accessions to archival institutions are not likely to happen. Preserving potentially valuable archival holdings should be the main drive here as well as “developing new mechanisms for educating the public about how to care for their personal and family archives” (Cox 2009). Because of the large amounts of personal materials produced, we propose an efficient mechanism for addressing archives in the development stage – software or service with built-in professional knowledge. This suggestion is consistent with the contemporary archival mission.

There are numerous tools available to people for creation, capturing, storing, sharing and recycling of content. However, there is the absence of tools which might ensure content cohesion – tools for gluing records together, adding provenance to the content and for organizing records and saving their interpretative potential for the future. Archival tools for the organization of personal fonds are unavailable to personal records creators (end users). It leaves personal accumulations unstructured, provenance links decaying and content scattered. (Provenance refers to the archival principle of grouping materials of the same origin). It is also why we need to capture and preserve as much context as it is possible in the period of content creation and without burdening the creator too much.

Our approach includes the use of technologies that are already out there (apps, content services, repositories) and built-in archival mechanisms, in an innovative and user-friendly way, as well as adding contextual information and ensuring provenance links. It is our answer to the questions how to build personal archives today and why to do it.

(This is summarized text of the introductory part of the article “Gluing Provenance to Dispersed Personal Content and Creating Contemporary Personal Archives” that was published in InFuture2017 Conference proceedings.)

Legacy Sky went public in Zagreb

Preliminary communication for Legacy Sky was presented on November 9th at INFuture2017  international conference in Zagreb. First, we explained the theoretical layout of virtual (conceptual) contemporary personal fonds and (pre-custodial and) post-custodial idea behind the product.

Then we defined the intended role of our service in the environment of digital repositories. At the end of the presentation, we explained our development process and invited the community and early adopters to participate.

We completely support the democratization of archives idea through our personal archiving network and we believe that archival science should offer the tools with built-in professional logic to records creators and end-users.

Welcome Readers!

You may have shifted from local storage to the cloud storage. That was a good decision because you have excluded factor of the medium from the preservation equation. But the medium is just one component and storage is not archiving. Will you be able to read the content in your clouds after five years? Ultimately, will you be able to find it?

Possible scenarios:

1. I don’t know what I have.

2. I almost know what I have, but I cannot find all the items.

3. I found what I was looking for, but now I cannot open it. How do you open those darn files? What am I doing wrong?

This blog is about archiving of digital personal content that comes from various cloud services. It’s about your scattered content and all the problems that it causes. There are commonly used services like Dropbox, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and various others. These services are used to create content, to transfer content or to store content as repositories, e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, One Drive etc. The content could be in various forms and file formats too. Alongside keeping a variety of content types, which is a problem by itself, some of their (file) formats will become obsolete.

This blog will be dealing with the preservation methods, content types and preservation-related risks and with personal archives-related issues. It will be dealing with models and functions in this area. It will equip you with the theoretical foundations and the practical knowledge needed for the preservation of your digital legacy.  The blog aims to grapple with main structural and preservation related catastrophes which could hit personal archives. Although it is intended to explain Legacy Sky open software or commercial service functions, it will generate wider explanations of not just tool logic but content obsolesce, poverty of description and other digital preservation issues or problems in general. In the end, the blog will also have excursions towards broader problems of archives like usage of description models and formatting, linked data in archival science, usage of technologies from other domains for archival purposes etc.