Save Your Digital Memories….Now

How many of us have thousands of digital photos, hours of digital video, all sitting in drawers or on a computer hard drive?  If you’re like me, I’ve backed it all up but it’s not fully organized, photo filenames all start with “DSC” or some other camera-generated filename so all of them are similar, and I’ve begun to think about my kids and future generations and their access and understanding of these artifacts.

One of my favorite blogs is Shorpy’s, the “100 Year Old Photo Blog“. I often delight in the images captured and think often about today’s photos (and video) and whether there will be much for a Shorpy’s to showcase 100 years from now (and images that have analogous resolution to the beautiful “HD” ones they showcase).

After threatening to do this for five years or so, I’ve just begun a project to copy and store about 75 hours of digital video and record it to archive quality DVD discs. Since magnetic tape deteriorates over time (and VHS color fades in about 10 years) and even digital tape experiences dropouts, it’s imperative that I get this stuff in other forms before it’s lost.

I’ve had the best of intentions for several years but these projects are daunting in their scope, time and attention required to drive them to completion. Besides all of my digital video, I have about 10GB’s (thousands and thousands of photos) with only about 50% of them properly organized into folders and they certainly do NOT have enough metadata in them since that’s even MORE work!

Why metadata? So we know who-is-who and what-is-what in these photos. I’ve started (twice) to scan boxes of family photos, many of them one of a kind. Most have names written on the back (my maternal grandmother annotated many of them) but ~40% have nothing and know one is alive that knows what they represent or who is in them. I have Apple’s iPhoto (which has a “description” field for annotating a photo) and Adobe’s Lightroom (with rich metadata capability) but any good photo management software has this capability and it’s gnawing at me every time I glance at yet another huge folder full of images that only I know what’s in it.

My intention is to copy and archive all my video; organize all my digital photos; scan all the family photos; and back them all up. Once bandwidth is sufficient to upload gigabytes-upon-gigabytes of digital memories, I’ll ensure that everything is off-site as well (and hope that a service appears that I can pay “X” to for, say, 50-100 years of guaranteed storage.

Just know that everything you’re capturing on physical media needs your attention…even if its digital. Maybe more so….and now.

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  1. Kelly on April 5, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Document Metadata is particularly important in legal environments where litigation can request this sensitive information (metadata) which can include many elements of private detrimental data. This data has been linked to multiple lawsuits that have got corporations into legal complications.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Connecting the Dots Podcast

Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.