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Archiving Your Life: PDA 2012 Meeting

Posted in UC3

I’m currently sitting in a church.  No, I’m not being disrespectful and blogging while at church.  Technically, I’m in a former church, in the Richmond District of San Francisco.  The Internet Archive bought an old church and turned it into an amazing space for their operation, as well as for meetings like the 2012 Personal Digital Archiving Meeting I’m currently attending.

I wasn’t sure what “personal digital archiving” meant, exactly, before I heard about this conference.  It turns out the concept is very familiar to me.  It’s basically thinking about how to preserve your life’s digital content – photos, emails, writings, files, scanned images, etc. etc.  The concept of archiving personal materials is a very hot topic right now.  Think about Facebook, Storify, iCloud, WordPress, and Flickr, to name a few.  As a scientist, I actually think my of my data as personal digital files: they represent a very long period of my life, after all.  So I’m at this meeting talking a bit about DCXL, and also learning a lot about some amazing new stuff.  Here’s a few interesting tidbits:

Cowbird: This is a place to tell stories, rather than just archive their lives.  According to the founder (who is attending this conference), Cowbird is about the experience of life, as opposed to merely curating life. For an amazing, moving example of how Cowbird works, check this out: First Love

The Brain: Very cool, free software that helps you organize links, definitions, notes, etc.  The idea is that it works just like your brain: it makes connections and creates networks to provide meaning to each link.  Play with it a bit and you will be hooked.

Pinboard: Technically, I already knew about Pinboard. But the founder of the bookmarking system gave a great talk, so I’m including it here.  Pinboard has been described as how the bookmarking service Delicious used to work, before it stopped working well.  For a very small fee (~$10) you can store your bookmarks, tag them, and even save copies of the web pages as they were when you viewed them- this comes in particularly handy if you use a website for research and it might mysteriously disappear without warning.  My favorite thing about Pinboard is it isn’t mucked up with ads and other visual distractions.

Internet archive
The church meant for worship of all things digital: The Internet Archive. From Flickr by evan_carroll

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