In the previous post, a general definition of archives has been analyzed but what if the archive's nature is private and personal?
"I really think that that preference for the physical ... is probably generational and will fade," says Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information.
What's likely, Lynch says, is that our kids will expect to review the stories of their lives digitally, and photo books will instead be for special life events like graduations and family trips. Albums will tell just a fraction of the story.
"I think what you're going to find in the future is ... you're going to get a hard drive that will be passed along to a parent or a grandparent, and it will be the digital analog of an enormous shoebox full of pictures," Lynch says. Most of the pictures, he says, will include embedded metadata like dates and locations, just like how physical photos have information stamped or scribbled on the backs.
Lynch suggests that facial recognition software will help. "It's actually not crazy to think that 10 years from now there will be software that will recognize some common people.”
The problem then with the virtual piles of photographs isn't really a sign of our failings as scrapbookers but rather, lamentably, as personal archivists but the problem is that it's likely that if the photo sharing site you use goes under, your collections won't endure either.
"We're so new into this technology, and yet it's so widely adopted that we're just in this very unusual state where we've got all this kind of fabulous documentation, it's very fragile, it's very important, and we haven't yet figured out a kind of simple, easy way to make it endure," says archivist Bill LeFurgy. "It's a major problem."
As the head of the digital preservation group at the Library of Congress, LeFurgy is leading an outreach program on personal digital archiving to help teach the basics about issues IT experts and professional archivists have been tackling for years. In a blog post, he writes:
"The issues involved in digital preservation are extensive. Technology advancement, digital decay, data integrity and storage, and economic sustainability all come into play. These issues, along with the very rapidly growing volume of digital content, make digital preservation a moving target."