PDA–Personal Digital Archives

I went to the Personal Digital Archiving Conference this weekend. This Conference is fairly new, only three years old, and is put on by The Internet Archive, a 501(c) 3 organization that is dedicated to saving stuff on the Web, or in other words, Brewster Kahle. Everyone who took part in the dot com boom knows Brewster.  And everyone at the conference, which took place in a converted Christian Science church on Funston Street, knew more about computer science than I.  Well, not everyone.  There was a dog.
I was privileged to go to this conference as a representative of the Jewish Women’s Archive.  And I think that the JWA is going to be doing quite a bit with some of the organizations and people I met there.  The Internet Archive itself, for one.  Memoir Tree. Debbie Weissman and Cathy Marshall, who research and publish extensively on this new social construct that brings people together across space and time.
When registering for the conference, I was asked for my contribution.  I was reaching for my credit cards when I realized that was not what they meant. This was an academic conference, and they wanted to know if I had a presentation I could contribute, something to make the others in the room think.  Well, for that I would have to see.
The keynote was about the importance of education people on how to save their own work.   I can certainly do that.  HEY GUYS, SAVE YOUR STUFF! 
As one speaker after another described what they were doing—very interesting work, covering everything from what people planned to do with their own digital information after they die (most people plan to not die) to how much it would cost to save that information for 100 years (a lot, if you pay it all upfront) I wondered how I could contribute in some way to this gathering.  Since I had driven up from Palo Alto, I made an announcement at the end of the conference—I could give some people a ride home.
I ended up driving home the most popular speaker at the conference, David Rosenthal, who generated economic models on how much digital storage is going to cost, long-term, and a PhD student who works with MUSE, a program that works with email archives to do all manner of cool stuff, a program that essentially automates—no, facilitates—what I did for a huge paper on Victorian Literature, which studied correspondence in The Times of London.
And in the course of conversation, it occurred to me that I had let my own computer skills and understanding atrophy because I had such a handy IT department, mainly, my husband, who could have contributed to that conference for hours. 
So that’s what I’m cooking up next. Personal digital literacy and finding out what I look like online.
 First step: Pinboard and bookmarks.

About Onecakebaker

Author of a memoir called The Girl On the Wall, and working on a novel. Former Synagogue president, gardener, empty nester. Raising bees.
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