Blog 3: Curating & Family History

From my understanding, preserving data would be to store data, making it last and be accessible for future use.  Similar to preserving artifacts in museums. To keep the item in good, lasting condition. Curating data, like we discussed in class, is how the information is organized and categorized.  Usually curating is believed to be biased, especially because humans are biased. Also the way it is chosen to be organized can lead to the information being biased towards one end versus the other.  Aggregating data is also grouping information together, but curating is more like curating for a museum where you draw from aggregated data to curate the event if that makes sense.

I think the problem I have with digital archiving is that I cannot see the future for non-digital items.  Do we keep them or throw them away? If we keep them, where do we put them? Do we just keep one hard-copy or multiple?  This is difficult for me to wrap my head around because most items are mass produced and have little value, but in the future, if these items are all gone how much would it be worth then?  You can take all the images you want of an object, but there are some stuff you can’t grasp in an image. The texture might be important to understanding the object. Reading a description that just says “rough texture” or something does not allow the research to draw their own conclusion.  They might disagree and say the object is more grainy than rough.

From what I’ve noticed from the archive examples given for this week was that scholarly funded archives have more open access, which is great for anyone to do their own research, but their website’s design is either poor or outdated.  Fold3, I think, has a nicer design than for example, the Hurricane Archive.  The problem with Fold3 is that you have to pay to use it which makes it less accessible for anyone to use.  Fold3 is owned by Ancestry, a private company, which is probably why they can afford to design a nicer website.  

If I were to digitally preserve my family history, I would probably conduct oral history interviews with each of my family members.  I would write summaries of everyone’s life. I would try to keep all diaries, notebooks, and journals. There would be a digital map that traces my family’s migration history.  Also, there would be an emphasis on the Vietnam War, our ethnic identity, and the experiences growing up as American, but people in general are complex so I really wouldn’t know what items would best capture who we are.  I might never publish any of this publicly until we have all passed. Even then, I don’t know if the generation after us wants any of this published.

I think a lot of the materials and websites that are going to be preserved are going to start from big scale to small scale.  What I mean by this is that we are going to definitely try to preserve things relating to new innovations similar to how we have documentation of the printing press and other inventions that had a large impact.  Then we will go smaller and try to document stuff like daily text conversations. I think once these have all been archived somewhere, I would like to see them presented similar to Valley of the Shadow but in a simulation where you get to actually walk around in the archive. 

TLDR; curating is biased.  Will we save physical objects after they have been digitized?  Private companies have better website designs, but cost money. For my family history, I will try to preserve everything but I don’t want to publish it.  If we started archiving everything I think we will start big then archive the small things.

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