Blog Post 3

While data preservation, curation, and aggregation are different, they are all important concepts to understand when working in digital history. Data preservation is when the digital historian actively maintains, protects, and collects data. Curation is when the digital historian sorts through data, selecting which data to use and not use. Aggregation is when data is put together into an organized group to form a whole body or project. These methods are all used in digital archiving.

While useful, digital archiving is often met with a lot of tension. For example, some are very protective of the data they are responsible for and feel that a very limited amount of people deserve access to it. This can be seen in some physical archives where only professional M.A.s or PhDs have access. Digital archives challenge this by giving access to their archives to pretty much anyone who has internet access. Another argument against digitizing data, as Cohen and Rosenzweig explain in Chapter 3, is that physical data (including objects) carries more meaning than digital data. A good way to fix these issues is by preserving and maintaining physical data and giving access to that physical data to those qualified and trusted with handling that data while also giving everyone else access to digital versions of physical data.

If I were to go about digitally preserving and documenting my family history, I would start off by scanning any photo I can and digitizing any old home videos I can. I would also record different family members telling personal/family stories and attempt to transcribe as much of those accounts as I can. I would then tag those files with the people in or mentioned in them and organize the files by date so everything I need can be easy to find. I would like to keep this data on my own computer and back it up on a hard drive while finding a way to allow other family members to access/contribute to that data online while also keeping it only accessible to family.

Since archivists’ time is limited, they must prioritize preserving data that is not only related to their project but also adds substance to the project. In order to avoid redundancy or having an overwhelming amount of data, archivists need to pick and choose which data is truly important and impactful. Archivists should pick the websites that they are the most comfortable with using to make the process as smooth as possible.

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