In a digital Aρχεῖον

Recently I organized a panel on scholars’ personal digital archiving practices, and gave a talk on the same topic at the Personal Digital Archiving (PDA) 2012 Conference at the Internet Archive.

At PDA 2012, discussing results of my fieldwork study

Held annually, PDA brings together participants from academia, corporate sector, startups, governmental institutions, and other stakeholders focused on ensuring long-term access to personal digital archives. PDA’s founder and primary convenor, Jeff Ubois, defines personal digital archives as ‘the sum of an individual’s digital information and creative works,’ and points out that personal digital archiving ‘democratizes something that only very rich and powerful people had up until now, which is the ability to send a record of their lives into the future.’

Jeff Ubois at PDA 2012

At PDA 2012, the theme of documenting ordinary people’s lives  was put forward from the very beginning, with the screening of Rick Prelinger’s documentary Lost Landscapes of Detroit. Presentations that followed additionally highlighted this theme. Mike Ashenfelder from the Library of Congress provided ‘Personal Digital Archive Advice for the General Public’, Stan James presented the case of his own family archive, Lori Kendall from the University of Illinois discussed family history works, while Microsoft’s Cathy Marshall talked about ownership and re-use of personal data.

Stan James discussing his family archive

Academic personal digital archiving was the main theme of presentations by Sudheendra Hangal from Stanford University, Carly Strasser from California Digital Library and Christopher Lee from the University of North Carolina, as well as of the panel What’s being Lost, What’s being Saved: Practices in digital scholarship and personal archiving. This panel included talks by University of Minnesota’s Laura Gurak and John Butler, as well as Penn State’s Ellysa Stern Cahoy and my previously mentioned talk.

Panel discussion on academic personal archiving: John Butler, Laura Gurak, Smiljana Antonijević, Ellysa Stern Cahoy, and Cal Lee (left to right)

Preservation and use of personal email archives was the topic of Stanford University Libraries’ Peter Chan, while Maciej Ceglowski, the founder of Pinboard, and Jerry Michalski, the founder of REX, talked about practical challenges and benefits of using bookmark and knowledge management tools such as Pinbord and The Brain. A commercial application aimed at facilitating personal digital archiving, Memoir Tree, was the theme of Jed Lau’s talk.

Maciej Ceglowski presenting Pinbord

Internet Archive’s founder Brewster Kahle and a team of IT developers discussed further archival plans at the Internet Archive.

Brewster Kahle talking about Internet Archive

PDA 2013 will be co-hosted by the Library of Congress and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

For PDA 2012 full conference program and video recordings please see the following URLs:

For other reviews of the PDA 2012 conference please see the following URLs:

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