Personal Digital Archiving 2011 Call for Participation

Personal Digital Archiving 2011

February 24 & 25, 2011
The Internet Archive, San Francisco

We are pleased to announce that the Personal Digital Archiving 2011 Conference is now open for participation. We welcome proposals for session topics and speakers, as well as volunteers to help us organize and serve on site.

Conference sessions will be selected by an international peer review panel that includes:

  • Ben Gross, Highlands Group
  • Brewster Kahle, The Internet Archive
  • Cal Lee, University of North Carolina
  • Cathy Marshall, Microsoft Research
  • Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information
  • Elizabeth Churchill, Yahoo! Research
  • Jeff Ubois, The Bassetti Foundation
  • Jeremy John, The British Library

Relevant themes include but are not limited to family photographs and home movies; personal health and financial data; interface design for archives; scrap booking; social network data; institutional practices; genealogy; email, blogs and correspondence; and funding models.

Conference presentations will be 15-20 minutes in length. If you wish to submit an abstract for the conference, please email with:

  • title of your project, paper or presentation
  • a 150-300 word abstract
  • a brief biography (a few sentences)

Deadline for abstracts: 24 December, 2010.
Notification of acceptance: 5 January, 2011.

Late submissions will be considered on an individual basis.

Topics for discussion

From family photographs and personal papers to health and financial information, vital personal records are becoming digital. Creation and capture of digital information has become a part of the daily routine for hundreds of millions of people. But what are the long-term prospects for this data?

The combination of new capture devices (more than 1 billion camera phones will be sold in 2010) and new types of media are reshaping both our personal and collective memories. Personal collections are growing in size and complexity. As these collections spread across different media (including film and paper!), we are redrawing the lines between personal and professional data, and published and unpublished information.

For individuals, institutions, investors, entrepreneurs, and funding agencies thinking about how best to address these issues, Personal Digital Archiving 2011 will clarify the technical, social, economic questions around personal archiving. Presentations will include contemporary solutions to archiving problems that attendees may replicate for their own collections, and address questions such as

  • What new social norms around preservation, access, and disclosure are emerging?
  • Do libraries, museums, and archives have a new responsibility to collect digital personal materials?
  • What is the relationship of personal health information and quantified self data to personal archives?
  • How can we cope with the intersection between personal data and collective or social data that is personal?
  • How can we manage the shift from simple text-based data to rich media such as movies in personal collections?
  • What tools and services are needed to better enable self-archiving?
  • What are viable existing economic models that can support personal archives? What new economic models should we evaluate?
  • What are the long-term rights management issues? Are there unrecognized stakeholders we should begin to account for now?
  • Can we better anticipate (and measure) losses of personal material?
  • What are the options for cultural heritage institutions that want to preserve the personal collections of citizens and scholars, creators and actors?
  • What are the projects we can commit to in the coming year?

Whether the answers to these questions are framed in terms of personal archiving, lifestreams, personal digital heritage, preserving digital lives, scrapbooking, or managing intellectual estates, they present major challenges for both individuals and institutions: data loss is a nearly universal experience, whether it is due to hardware failure, obsolescence, user error, or lack of institutional support. Some of these losses may not matter; but the early work of the Nobel prize winners of the 2030s is likely to be digital today, and therefore at risk in ways that previous scientific and literary creations were not. And it isn’t just Nobel winners that matter: the lives of all of us will be preserved in ways not previously possible.


In February, 2010, more than 60 people met at the Internet Archive to explore common concerns about personal digital archiving. Attendees included representatives from UC Berkeley, Stanford, UNC, UT Austin, the University of Illinois, and Oxford University; Microsoft, Yahoo (Labs, and Flickr), Google, and Amazon (S3); the Smithsonian, the Magnes Museum; Xerox PARC; the Center for Home Movies, the California Digital Library, Family Search, and the Coalition for Networked Information. The Internet Archive, the Bassetti Foundation, and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision provided support for the conference.

Several projects discussed in 2010 have progressed, and we’ll have some reports on these:

  • a showcase of interface designs for personal collections
  • cost modeling for personal archives
  • guidelines for AV archives interested in preserving amateur film
  • small scale endowments for storage that can allow individuals to preserve their materials inside leading institutions

The conference fee is $95 for attendees from non-commercial institutions and $195 for attendees from commercial organizations. Scholarships and early bird discounts are available.

Registration and conference information is available at

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