Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A conference that digital history geeks like me can really go for.

I'm on about a bizillion list-servs at work. Most of the time I skim through the posts looking for things that are relevant to my job, cool things that we could be doing with our website, and generally what is happening in my profession.These list-servs are all about digital archiving, preserving, and accessibility. I usually check all the boxes and change the status from un-read to read in the blink of an eye. 

Not so on this one. 

Call for Participation: Personal Digital Archiving 2011 
Relevant themes include but are not limited to family photographs and
home movies; personal health and financial data; interface design for
archives; scrap booking; social network data; institutional practices;
genealogy; email, blogs and other correspondence; and funding models. 

Personal Digital Archiving 2011
February 24 & 25, 2011
The Internet Archive, San Francisco  

I'm very tempted to put in a proposal for this one. Besides the recipes that I concoct like a mad scientist my blog is pretty much a social networking tool to archive my personal family stuff (sorry, about the librarian techno jargon but stuff is really what we sometimes call things that fall within our collection development policy.)

Here are some other reasons why I should go to this conference.

1.  I've been able to connect up with some family by posting personal family history stuff on this blog. See? That's proof of concept, right there. Not to mention the awesome pound of coffee I got out of the deal.

2. This is really what I do for a living. Digitally archive history. And, isn't all history; personal history?

3. I love San Francisco.

4. I have family that lives in the bay area. One more connection to that whole genealogy/family history thing.

5. I've meet Brewster Kahle (the founder of the Internet Archive) and he's a really nice guy and a great speaker. He's got this deal going, the Internet Archive: Digital Library. I remember when it was just the Wayback Machine (and if you haven't seen that then you have to go look. Now! I'll wait). He is also digitizing books onsite, has video and audio archives. You name it. He's got the coolest thing going. I want to be Brewster Kahle, without the whole being a guy thing, of course.

6. The food in San Francisco is great! 

7. I only have one trip planned in February and that is to San Antonio so it doesn't really count as a trip.  It's more of a jaunt. Under my definition of a jaunt. Which is; less than going to Austin but more than staying in Houston. Trust me to define or justify just about anything.

8. This is one of the cheapest conference registration fees I've seen in a long time. The registration is cheap, not so much the airfare and hotel.

9. Ghirardelli chocolate

10. This would sure be a lot more fun than talking about bit-rot, emulsion separation from acetate film, long-term storage and migration of digital media, copyright, and format standards (yes, those are the topics of the conferences that I go to). This is about losing all that cool stuff that you and I and everyone else with a blog, flickr, twitter and facebook accounts,  are producing but not really keeping. Producing something digitally is not and never will be the same as when your grandfather or great grandfather took that picture, wrote that letter, or saved that last piece of china from his grandmother's set. Those things are tangible. Digital media is much more fragile. It's lifespan can not be determined by a test or even the test of time. We just don't know. What we do know is that more care is involved when it comes to digital materials. Lots and lots of copies. Whoops! Soap box. Sorry. 

11. This conference is not about how to sell your blog, market yourself, write better stuff, up your readership or any of those other things that go with conferences that involve social media (not that there is anything wrong with those things. They are just not very interesting to me). This is about saving parts of personal history that will be lost because they are not in tangible form or that people don't think are all that important because it involves social media. We are about to have a huge gap in our social history if we do nothing to save it. Whoops! Soap box again. Sorry. I promise to try harder to step down off that thing.

There are a couple of flaws in my plan. 
How do get my boss to pay for it? 

And, the weather. February in San Fran is cold. Cold and wet. I really don't do cold and wet. This fact alone might keep me away from this conference.

Beyond all that who wants to party with me in San Francisco in February? We could hang out with this bunch of digital luminaries:
Ben Gross, Highlands Group
Brewster Kahle, The Internet Archive
Cal Lee, University of North Carolina
Cathy Marshall, Microsoft Research
Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information
Elizabeth Churchill, Yahoo! Research
Jeff Ubois, The Bassetti Foundation
Jeremy Leighton John, The British Library
Judith Zissman, Consultant

And eat good food. We may even be able to squeeze in a trip to Napa valley. It's a lot warmer up there and the wine is not bad either.



  1. Oh this just speaks to the latent archivist that I wanted to be in my former life (like the first time I went through school--history major, didn't want to teach, like museums and archives--total geek). However, I can't fit it into the schedule. Sigh.

  2. Go - GO! It sounds like fun, and right up your alley. And you're right - San Antonio is just a jaunt from Houston.

    I am absolutely, um, not jealous. Yeah, that's the ticket.

  3. I think you should go even if your boss won't pay for it, take some time off & go. Oh, and I'll meet you down there!