At the Personal Digital Archiving Conference, Again

Personal Digital Archiving Conference at NYU by Natalie Parker

On my way home from my month in London, I put on my grad student hat and stopped in New York City to attend the 2015 Personal Digital Archiving Conference.

This is the second year I’ve attended (see my thoughts from last year here).  In addition to being a huge boost to listen to people studying the same issues I am, I always hear so many good thoughts applicable to scrapbookers.

I’ve gone over my notes and picked out some interesting things.

Big Thoughts

These are paraphrased from my notes and are not actual quotes.

Don Perry: We need to be considering the archives we are creating now as things people in the future will look to to understand the past.  The impetus for taking the photograph today is the same as in 1840 when someone sat in a studio to make a daguerreotype. It is to capture something.  The photograph is a distilled version of one persons heart.

Jessica Bushey: The smartphone is the preferred device for taking photos. The function of photos is shifting from a snapshot to remember or to create a permanent record to a digital trace that communicates an experience that is quickly consumed and forgotten.

While on the surface it seems like Perry and Bushey disagree with each other, I don’t think that’s the case.  While I do think that more of today’s photos are ephemeral (do you want the picture I took of a price tag at Target?), I think at least some of the photos we take today will fit Perry’s definition as we age.

Julie Swierczek: There is too much emphasis on big data and not enough small scale description.  It doesn’t matter how many millions of women describe themselves as mothers on Facebook.  But, if you talked to a handful of mothers, that would be interesting.  Don’t forget the personal.

Swierczek’s comments about small scale really resonated with me.  Sometimes I wonder what’s the point of my scrapbooking when I’m just one person in this huge world.  She reminded me that stories on a small scale matter.

Other Bits

Todd Wemmer emphasized audio in memory keeping.  He played a clip of his kids playing at the beach that he said he wouldn’t trade for all his photos.  They weren’t even my kids and I was very moved by the experience of listening to them.  Listen to clips he’s collected of all sorts of people here.  It’s amazing to hear people tell their stories.

Sarah Severson showed us how she used Picasa and WordPress to create an online family archive.  I was totally blown away and need to get on this!

Joel Neville Anderson shared the Photohoku project with us, an effort to provide photographs and albums to people who lost everything in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan.  The idea is to help people restart their family albums.

So much good stuff here!

In addition to being a scrapbooker and a traveler, I’m also studying to be an archivist.  I’m currently researching what regular people do with their photos.  To read more of my posts about archives for scrapbookers, click here.

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