First Year of The Signal Illustrates Value of Broad Digital Preservation Outreach

When we launched The Signal one year ago today I declared that “we want to do even better,” in our efforts to share information and engage with people that have a stake in preserving digital information.

So–how well did we measure up to that intent in our first year?  The metrics tell an encouraging story.

  • 269,883 page views
  • 100,000+ references on the web
  • 617 approved comments
  • 288 posts
  • 26 guest bloggers (complementing the work of our nine staff bloggers)
Sweet and Salty Cake, by Ralph and Jenny, on Flickr

Sweet and Salty Cake, by Ralph and Jenny, on Flickr

I’m pleased with our reach.  We garnered mention in a variety of professional journals, trade publications and blogs focusing on digital preservation.  Other references popped up on websites of museums, public libraries, government agencies as well as on a host of specialty blogs focusing on subjects such as art, law, music, genealogy, photography and technology.

This is just what we wanted.  First, we sought expanded communication with librarians, archivists and others working to preserve digital content.  And second, we wanted to breach the awareness of the multitudes who have a need, personal or otherwise, to preserve digital content.

This last point is critical.  Digital preservation is (or soon will be) on the radar of millions.  Every organization that uses data needs to get its digital house in order for the long term.   Everyone who takes digital photos, uses social media or collects digital music should at some point think seriously about how to keep this information alive over time.

In an era where people like me worry about the sustainability of digital preservation projects–providing the resources necessary to manage, store and serve content on a permanent basis–it’s critical to help the public understand that the issue has a direct bearing on their lives.  One might say that all digital preservation is ultimately local.

Looking at our top 10 posts as measured by total page views is instructive.

  1. Four Easy Tips for Preserving your Digital Photographs; 7.466
  2. What Skills Does a Digital Archivist or Librarian Need?; 5.225
  3. Digital Preservation File Formats for Scanned Images; 3,751
  4. Mission Possible: An Easy Way to Add Descriptions to Digital Photos; 3,529
  5. When I Go Away: Getting Your Digital Affairs in Order; 3,271
  6. Create and Share Interfaces to Our Digital Cultural Heritage; 3,009
  7. Top 10 Digital Preservation Developments of 2011; 2,861
  8. Digitization is Different than Digital Preservation: Help Prevent Digital Orphans; 2,731
  9. #sxswLAM: Libraries and Museums in an Interactive World; 2,559
  10. Preserving Your Personal Digital Photographs: Library of Congress Presents Online Session; 2,496

At least half the posts appeal directly to the general public in terms of personal digital archiving.  People are eager for guidance in this area, and libraries and archives are in a great position to meet this need.  It works the other way as well: when a person understands what’s at stake for their own material, they have a better awareness about the value of preserving digital culture in general.

The top 10 posts also illustrate a specific interest in learning about how cultural heritage organizations are adopting to an increasingly digital world.  We’re eager to contribute to this conversation, since it lies at the heart of what NDIIPP is all about.

As we stand poise to move into our second year, our original intent for The Signal remains: to “discuss digital stewardship in a way that is informative and appealing” and to “cover exciting new developments that have an impact on digital preservation and access.”

We would love to get your ideas, advice and comments about what we cover or how we cover it.  Let us know!


  1. Ed Summers
    June 4, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Congratulations! Aside from the impressive number of page views for what some might consider a somewhat esoteric topic, I really like your content-centric interpretation of the page view statistics.

    Helping everyone grapple with what digital preservation and archiving means in their personal lives ultimately will make it easier for professional archivists and librarians to do their job. Perhaps more importantly I think it encourages innovation in a field that is desperate for new approaches in a rapidly changing landscape.

    • Bill LeFurgy
      June 4, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Ed: Thanks. You’re right about how personal archiving can help spur innovation. The more people who care about the work, the greater the probability we will see good ideas for doing it better.

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