Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The digital revolution has left an indelible mark in our personal lives. Taking family photos has never been easier. We simply click away on our digital cameras and transfer the images to a computer or a portable device. Viewing them can now be through the new USB compatible TVs.

Personal record keeping has also evolved. Photocopying and sealing those important academic and achievement certificates is outdated. It is now much easier to scan and store the digital image in your computer.

This historical data has to be secured due to its vital long-term importance. How do you effectively preserve these personal records?

Digital preservation is basically the keeping of data in such a way that its significant content can still be extracted and understood for an extended period of time. One thing to note is that all storage media (including your computer or external hard disk) becomes unreadable, or more difficult to read, eventually. These devices simply deteriorate.

There are two options available. You can constantly convert the data after a few years so that it is easily processed by the software systems of the future. The other option is to convert the original digital record into a stream of bytes. This would ensure that you can retrieve it into as many formats whilst retaining its original quality. This option is definitely more secure but technically challenging.

The third option would be uploading all your personal data to a cloud provider. This would free you from the anxiety of contemplating what would happen if you lost your computer or portable storage device. However this option comes with a risk. What would happen if the cloud provider went bust or lost your data?

All these options must be considered against the backdrop that ICT was different twenty years ago. Advances in technology will inevitably make technology fundamentally different twenty years from now.

The format of your digital documents and snaps will therefore change and conversion will be necessary. My option would be to use the second option in which you use a conversion utility that will convert your records into a stream of bytes.

Use this utility to attach metadata that contains information about its properties and store these records into your portable storage device. As a redundancy upload it to a cloud provider. This way your future generations will be able to access those digital family snaps and documents with the technology of their time.

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