What I Really Really Want – Preserving Work in the Digital Age

This maybe isn’t a fully formed “want” at the moment, but I think it’s almost there—how do we keep track of/preserve media in the digital age? It’s something that I wonder about once in a while. I save some documents on an external hard drive, but for all I know the next laptop I buy may not even have a USB port. Many of my documents live in Google Drive, which probably has a little more lasting power, but for how much longer will I be able to move them between different iterations of Microsoft Office? Just think of all those WordPad documents nobody will take the time to open again… I’m not sure if I’m more interested in the details of this issue or a broader philosophy concerning humans needing to leave a mark (thus making disappearing writing a bit worrisome). From what I can tell the conversation surrounding the issue is mostly taken up by historians and librarians, though I think there’s an under-discussed personal aspect to it as well. There is freedom in throwing your work into the churning mass of online communication, but there’s also a sense of nostalgia for how we use to share written work between generations. I can read letters saved by my grandparents for decades, but I can’t even remember the password to my old Hotmail account, so those letters are lost (and maybe it’s for the best). I, in no way, want to say “Just print it all off!” but I’d like to know how people are dealing with this cultural transition as our “marks” become seemingly more ephemeral.

Pertinent Pages:

Library of Congress. (2010). “Why Digital Preservation is Important for Everyone” (Video)

Marshall, C. (2008). “Rethinking Personal Digital Archiving.” 

MIT. (2015). “Personal Digital Archiving Strategies” (PDF)


One thought on “What I Really Really Want – Preserving Work in the Digital Age

  1. Oooh, good one. I don’t think about this very often but it is really something I need to make some time for. Sometimes when Facebook shows me what I’ve posted on that date in years past I think of how sad I’d be if something happened and I lost access to my stuff there for whatever reason. I look forward to seeing your later explorations of this even if we don’t address it in class. I may do some exploring on my own as well.

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