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Personal Digital Archiving: How Well Do You Score?

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The following is a guest post by Tess Webre, an intern with NDIIPP at the Library of Congress

Old Technology 10 by crabchick, on Flickr

I love dumb magazines. Love ‘em. The more photoshopped the front cover, the more vapid the articles, the more stereotypical the content, the more I love them. In college, while I was spelling woman with a y and trying to bring down the patriarchy, I hid my fondness for their idiocy in a thick layer of hostility and a canned speech about gender binaries.

As an adult I have rediscovered their silliness and banality, while being thoroughly entertained. Most of all, I adore the quizzes with titles such as “Is your guy a zero or a hero?” or “What is your hair personality?”.  So I thought, why not make a quiz on digital preservation complete with over the top puns, graphics, and dated pop culture references? Why not indeed, I ask?

So I did, here it is below.  Enjoy!

QUIZ:  Does your personal digital preservation strategy need a makeover?

A. When was the last time you updated your storage media?

  1. Justin Bieber was still in diapers.
  2. The Artist formerly known as Prince was still known as Prince
  3. I updated it when I heard Gangnam Style this Summer.
  4. The first Mötley Crüe reunion tour.

B.  What kind of annotation do you have on your files?

  1. I never metadata I didn’t like
  2. My files are like minimalist art, bare
  3. Dublincore? More like DublinSNORE
  4. Sometimes, I remember to annotate with xml, but mostly I’m emailing my ex.

C.  Oh no! You dropped your phone! What about all of your text messages, contacts and other files?

  1. Gone forever.
  2. I might have some files backed up by my service provider, but I don’t know how many….
  3. I backed up my files a few times, but don’t know if I can still access all of the files
  4. I’ve been up to date on my backups and know exactly what I lost.

D.  You have just completed a project for work, but realize that you’ve saved it in a proprietary file format.

  1. Carpe diem, (Latin for YOLO). I don’t have time to convert it.
  2. I’ve made sure to convert it in an open format so that I can access it later.
  3. I know that I will have access to the software in the future. No need to worry.
  4. The proprietary format will lose a lot of its original format if I convert it, maybe it won’t be such a big deal.

E.  Finish the sentence: “My digital legacy …”

  1. Is secure, as I have created a clear plan as to what I want done with my digital files, accounts, etc. for my future heirs.
  2. Is far in the future, I’ve determined that it’s way too early to be worrying about it.
  3. Is completely uncoordinated. I don’t have anything worth passing on to the future.
  4. Is secure. I’ve given the gist of it to friends and family, but don’t need to write anything down.

F.  It’s 10 pm, do you know where all your files are?

  1. Yes, they are all on my hard drive, in my phone and on my digital camera.
  2. No, I don’t.
  3. Yes, there are files here and in another location.
  4. I don’t even know what I have.

G.  True or False: my current operating system will never be obsolete.

  1. True
  2. False

(Correct Answers: 3, 1, 4, 2, 1, 3, False.)

For each correct answer give yourself a point.

If you got 0-2 correct:

Your data plan is out of date. You need to give your personal digital preservation plans a makeover.  Try reading up on some new ways to update your digital preservation style here.

If you got 3-5 correct:

You’ve gotten a few right, but still should update your preservation style. Don’t turn your data into a problem. Try reading up on some new ways to update your digital preservation style here.

If you got 6-7 correct:

Congrats, you have the right stuff to preserve your data. Rock on! You know about the ins and outs of preserving your digital data. But make sure that you keep up to date on future updates.

Until next time, I wish you all safe data.

Comments (6)

  1. “Carpe diem, (Latin for YOLO).”

    Oh, boy.

  2. In the far future, my distant heirs will find a post-it note saying “herein is the secret to bazillions of dollars and other treasure.” The post-it will be attached to a 3.5-inch floppy disc…..

  3. LOL Susan! This is a fun way of explaining things, but serious to the point. I think I know all the answers, but not sure if I have had the time to apply them all. Cory Doctorow’s “metacrap” ( could also be linked in the same category of “Fun Digital Preservation Materials”.

  4. Why publish real answers (solutions) to each question… At least best practices 🙂

  5. Hi Mark,
    That’s a good idea to provide specifics related to these questions. Maybe this can be a future blog post! In the meantime, we can point you to some practical guidelines to get you started. Within our site, see the page on Personal Archiving at: This section provides general advice for different types of digital material. Thanks for your interest!

  6. As someone who just finished library school and took a class on digital curation, I found this highly entertaining and really relevant. I wish more people took the time to think about personal digital preservation-it’s such a simple solution to what could be gigantic problems! Also…the metadata pun had me in a fit of giggles. So nerdy/great!!

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