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Personal Digital Archiving - Schedule - May 2nd

Thursday, May 2


Conference Program

8:30 - 9:00

Registration + Coffee

9:00 - 9:15

Opening Remarks

9:15 - 10:15

Keynote: Alexandra Dolan-Mescal

10:15 - 10:30

Coffee Break

10:30 - 12:05

Emerging Issues in PDA

Personal Digital Scholarly Archives
Jefferson Bailey

Advancing open access to the work of scholars requires building open infrastructure and services for the perpetual accessibility and discoverability of research outputs. But the fractured, multi-platform nature of current methods of publication and sharing pose a challenge to creating a singular personal digital scholarly archive as traditionally conceived. Additionally, while much of the broader open research movement has focused on the technical implications of “open access” -- from open-source code to public APIs to open licenses -- there has been less focus on the intersection of these efforts with the personal archives of scholars. Herbert Van de Sompel’s recent CNI plenary talk, “Scholarly Communication: Deconstruct & Decentralize?” pondered open knowledge production via personal data management and the decentralized web, but his provocation was more a reconceptualization of how research outputs are controlled and shared rather than how these are preserved and made accessible through time and discovered.

Over the past year, the Internet Archive has been working to improve the collection, identification, preservation, and ongoing access of publicly-accessible, web-born scholarly outputs in all forms, from journal articles to professional blogging, from research datasets to social media. This work also aims to archive relevant metadata and identifier stores, such as DOIs, ORCIDs, etc, and to use this metadata both to drive archiving efforts and to associate individual archived research objects with additional bibliographic metadata, including personal information such as author, institution, and related works. This effort is intended to advance infrastructure, services, and partnerships for ongoing access to open scholarship, but will also serve to explore how the archives of individual faculty and scholars can be aggregated, archived, augmented, and made accessible even in an era in which research outputs are found on many distinct platforms and digital places. The presentation will outline the background and status of the overall project, examples of how an individual scholar’s research can be traced across, and archived from, many web-based platforms, and discuss how this work intersects with existing theories and practices for archiving the digital records of scholars.

Personal Digital Archives (PDA): Bookmarks and Personal Information using Personal Lifecycle Management (PLM) Concept
Suresh Jagarlamudi and Sai Krishna Maddineni

Web history and book marks are most important data that is used repeatedly by an individual. The major issue with the web browsers is that they will capture all the history along with bookmarks even without user’s acceptance. The reuse of the same information may or may not be possible because of lack of interoperability across all the browsers. Browsing history, Emails and book marks are one of the primary requirements for Personal Digital Archives (PDA). In addition to bookmarks and emails most of the interaction is happening using digital platform and the latest technologies are allowing users to capture day to day activities digitally and store the same for future.

Our research found that the amount of data produced by individuals is exponentially increasing and at the same time the number of tools used is also increasing. So it makes life difficult for us to consolidate all the data at one place and also the number of devices used by users is increasing as well. The data complexity further enhanced with IOT devices, since the device owner will be dependent on device service providers for analysing his or her data.

The number of devices used and the number of applications used will increase the complexity for interoperability. This complexity will be eliminated or decreased only when all the bookmarks along with important personal data are supported across devices and browsers. This would be achieved using an independent application that works across devices and web browsers.

Personal Lifecycle Management (PLM) will enhance PDA process and will work as a framework for organizing data for life time and beyond. The majority of activities applicable for PDA will be organised as following: Academics, Personal, Professional, Financial, Health and Legal.

Publishat is one of the products that followed PLM concept to organize personal data effectively for PDA. Browser extensions are available for Chrome and Firefox browsers & Apps are available for ANDROID and iOS. In addition to books marks Publishat browser extension provides screen grab facility and organize the same in a predefined form. Information available in Emails can be effectively captured using screen grabber. Later the same can be retrieved to view or share the same with other users. Annotation is also possible with screen grabber.

Publishat architecture is developed based on open source tools and can be extended to other devices including IOT for the future. Publishat is one of the products that follows PLM concept and going forward maturity of it will support PLM concept completely for Personal Digital Archive purpose. Enhancing PLM concept with Blockchain Technology will safeguard personal digital archive (PDA) data for life time and beyond for individuals and for enterprises too.

When Personally-Identifiable Data and Civic Data Collide
Robert Gradeck

Here at the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, we serve as a civic data intermediary and open data partner for Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh. Our mission involves making public information available, discoverable, and useful to a broad audience of data users. We operate an open data repository, transform data as part of automated data publishing processes, and provide tools and services to help people get the most out of civic data.

Sometimes, the data people want to use is embedded in systems containing information that could be used to identify sensitive details about a person. For example, people have requested data on 911 calls, human service usage, and information on non-emergency “311” complaints. In this session, I’ll talk about how we organize “privacy roundtables,” which are shared conversations involving our publishers, potential data users, staff, and librarians and other privacy experts to discuss processes for publishing sensitive data. In these roundtables, we start with a discussion of how external audiences might find value and use in the data, and discuss how other communities have approached sharing similar data as open data. Attendees are then encouraged to think as a malicious actors to come-up with ways they would use data to cause harm to people reflected in the data. The conversation then shifts to assessing risk and harm together before developing consensus around strategies and processes to minimize risk and harm in any public data release.

Roundtable conversations have been very helpful to everyone involved. Staff at the Regional Data Center have used these conversations to develop processes for transforming sensitive data, and also appreciate having outside experts involved in the review process. Publishers have used these conversations to inform legal review or other steps in their internal approval processes. Privacy experts appreciate being able to apply their expertise to practical challenges, and data users gain new insight about the data and the processes used to create it.  It’s our hope that other communities can learn from our experience when it comes to protecting sensitive information while still maintaining value to external users.

The Quantified Runner: New Directions for Personal Digital Archives Research?
Lee Pretlove

This presentation will introduce the research topic of the "quantified runner". This research topic not only addresses personal digital archives but also the fields of the quantified-self, leisure studies, sociology, personal information management, digital preservation and institutional digital archives.

The presentation will provide a demonstration of self-tracking data of a runner to show how different it is compared to digital photographs and digital documents. It will also convey how self-tracking data are a complex challenge to build a general public understanding of how they can managed for inclusion in a personal digital archive.

Following the demonstration of self-tracking data, the core of the presentation will focus upon the findings of the wide ranging, multi-disciplinary literature review of the fields outlined in the introduction. The research topic is being addressed through five questions, however this presentation will focus upon the initial findings of two of the questions before outlining potential research directions for the future.

Firstly, there will be a presentation of the findings which relate to the question of whether existing literature identifies what information runners find valuable from their self-tracking devices. Secondly, findings will be presented which address how the literature has observed how runners build and keep running information and whether there are any existing observations where runners make preparations for long-term access of their self-tracking running data, should it be central to their activity and identity.
The presentation will conclude with potential research directions learned from the literature for personal digital archiving and self-tracking data. In particular, it will outline both the researcher’s intended next steps in research and other potential areas that could be conducted by other researchers and practitioners.

The originality of the literature review is the combination of the fields under consideration to understand where the perceived knowledge and understanding ‘gaps’ are in society as well as the practical, professional fields under consideration. The presentation will convey an existing synthesis of what information runners intrinsically value, how they have made provisions to look after their personal running archives and provide an insight into potential new avenues for research in self-tracking personal digital archives.

Q+A Panel

12:05 - 12:35

Lightning Talks

Visitor Feedback as Personal Data
Zoë Faye Pickard

The modern museum focuses heavily on the visitor’s experience. As a venue of informal learning, much time is spent gathering data surrounding the individuals experience in the museum. This can range from tracking visitor movements and offering comment cards for feedback to formal interviews and focus groups designed specifically to draw out answers to curatorial, collection and interaction based questions. This is done with a view to improve the visitor experience and develop informal learning methods that reach diverse audiences in practical ways. This information is diverse and offered freely to the museum through a variety of platforms, the question of who owns this data, how it is used, retained and accessed is not something which has regularly been addressed. The lack of clarity given to visitor about what personal information is being collected, and why leads to questions surrounding the ethical responsibility of museums to visitors who have engaged in this process. It is common practice in museums to collect visitor feedback in an effort to continually improve the experience and education delivery provided. This study will begin by engaging with a number of museums in the Pittsburgh area, (specifically The Heniz History Center), in order to investigate how this information is being collected, used and what limitations are placed around its redistribution and if it can be accessed publicly through any means. Through a series of informal interviews with museum employees and evaluations of randomly sampled visitor feedback, it is hoped that some insight can be provided on the management of visitors’ personal data and what implications this can have on the individual.

Does Personal Digital Archiving Need a Q&A Site?
Mark Middleton

The PDA community does not have a web site that offers the technology to host questions and answers. There are many web sites that offer crowdsourced and community based Question and Answer formats. While there are many web sites that could be used if the PDA community could agree to support and promote one site it would lower to need for a few people to bear the support burden and also help drive traffic to one site. For example Stackexchange and reddit are two popular sites. I’d to talk about features of a few major sites. The goal of this talk is to provoke discussion and see if the community wanted to support such a project.

Building Bit Bridges: Student-Driven Digital Preservation
Annalise Berdini and Valencia Johnson

At Princeton University Library, we are working to build a more inclusive archives – one that amplifies the voices and experiences of Princeton students. As students and student organizations create digital records and ephemeral digital content on social media, the question of what materials will survive (and where one can find them) past students’ four years at the University has become ever more pressing. In order to give both students and the archives a chance for materials to last longer than the average undergraduate career, the Princeton University Archives has created a pilot program to instruct students in digital preservation techniques. This biannual workshop connects students with the archives, provides resources and basic training on how to manage their digital materials, and provides students with archival contacts they can reach out to when they have questions.

This lightning talk will briefly detail how the program was established, how connections were made with students, student groups, and other stakeholders, and lessons learned. This lightning talk will be relevant to anyone looking to establish a similar program within an institution or in their community, those looking to learn about free digital preservation tools and training, and those who want to learn about teaching students, patrons, or themselves to manage their own digital records.

Exploring the Sharing of Personal Memories and Archives with Families in a Chinese Context: Early Insights from a PhD Dissertation
Ruohua Han

This talk is an overview of the research design of and some preliminary insights from my PhD dissertation. The dissertation explores how Chinese individuals share some of their personal memories with their family members while also withholding some personal memories from them in their daily lives, and how their personal archives (both digital and non-digital) may be involved in the ways they engage themselves in these practices. Semi-structured interviews and supplementary ethnographic fieldwork are used to gather data from Chinese participants to learn about their thoughts and experiences related to the following questions: What kinds of personal memories do individuals share with different family members and how do they share them? How do they navigate processes of withholding personal memories they choose not to share? How may creating, using, sharing, keeping, modifying or even destroying personal archives be linked to how they carry out the sharing or withholding of their personal memories with family members? By examining the values, use, and preservation of personal archives through the lens of personal memory sharing/withholding activities, the project will be helpful in obtaining a more comprehensive understanding of how Chinese people interact with their personal archives in daily life. Investigating this topic in a Chinese context also has the potential to bring out cultural elements that can complement existing work in personal archiving, which has been less often conducted in East Asian contexts. This talk introduces the dissertation project, presents some key themes and ideas identified from the first batch of interviews, and discusses some challenges in conducting the project in China.

Q+A Panel

12:35 - 2:00


2:00 - 3:20

PDA + Historical Research

Small Town, Big Data:  Reconstructing the Forgotten History of Jewish Homestead through Mass Digitization
Tammy A. Hepps

Homestead Hebrews is an innovative effort to use digital data collection and analysis on a large scale to reconstruct the forgotten history of the defunct Jewish community of Homestead, PA.

Unlike most small towns in America, Homestead has been the focus of more than a century’s worth of sustained scholarship, and yet of that scholarship, only a few sentences, ranging from misleading to inaccurate, capture what was once a significant community in the town.  The surviving records of Homestead’s synagogue are preserved in an archive, but even they speak little to the actual history of the community that created and supported the synagogue.  In place of robust primary source documentation, however, researchers have tens of thousands of censuses, immigration records, death records, county records, newspapers, directory entries, and more. 

This talk will present, a custom-developed software platform that is making it possible to ingest, correlate, store, and process all these records, turning discrete data points into a satisfying historical account that far transcends the granularity of the source material.  The software platform will make it possible for descendants of this community to view their ancestors in their proper context, and for Homestead historians to have a well-documented narrative of the town’s Jewish community to augment its understanding of the town's other groups.

Beyond the application of this technology to this one community, this talk will demonstrate how Homestead Hebrews' approach opens up new possibilities for community researchers to leverage the millions of genealogical records that are going online every year.

Making History Work for the Public: The Walk Unabowed Project
Justin McHenry

As a small county archive (Franklin County, Pennsylvania) that deals exclusively with records pertaining to county government, it is always a goal and a challenge to try and find ways to make the historical documents and records that we maintain work for the public, to suss out the stories that lay within the records while also providing a service to the public. From this, the Walk Unabowed Project was born. This is an ongoing digitalization project utilizing multiple sources from the county archive to cross reference names of slaves to build a database of names of slaves who were held in the county. It is an opportunity to document slavery in all of its forms in the county, and establishes an easier way for people doing their genealogical research to be able to find their ancestors. The presentation is a brief overview of the project, how it came about, some of the stories discovered during the process and how we are trying to provide service to the public by memorializing the names of those held in slavery here.

Being There: Documenting Community on the Ground and in the Cloud
Laura J Murray

The small city of Kingston, Ontario, Canada is proud of its nineteenth-century architectural and political history: it was the hometown of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. The narrowness of historical attention narrows Kingston’s social vision for the present and future. In a familiar story, old working class areas are ripe for reinvention and amnesia. Through archival research and oral history, and starting with a focus on the twentieth century, Swamp Ward and Inner Harbour History Project brings people, time periods, spaces, and issues into Kingston’s story and out of the shadow of limestone buildings and celebrated politicians. The aim is to remember differently and thereby perhaps enable different futures. The project aims to surprise and disrupt.

In the four years since I started SWIHHP, I have with the help of students collected 100-odd oral history interviews and carefully combed all public archival resources. SWIHHP has had a significant online following through facebook and wordpress ( In 2017, we built 6 podcasts from our collection of 100-odd interviews, and distributed them via soundcloud and community radio. And yet, the aim of the project is to reach out to people who aren’t already paying attention to local history, or perhaps not even to the fabric of the neighbourhood around them. My focus to reach them has been ephemeral activities in situ. Walking tours and transient signage are important to my practice. On a larger scale, our 2018 photography exhibit Facing the Street digitized small snapshots from peoples’ private collections, enlarged them, and mounted them around the neighbourhood in the place where they were taken. In engaging people with neighbours across time, the intention was to encourage them to engage with people across the street.

My work on the Indigenous history of the area is taking more of my attention, so I am planning to donate the interviews and other materials to the local archives and move on. My dilemma — which I will describe after sharing some of the successes and innovations of SWIHHP — is that I think the strength of the project was/is “in the moment,” whether in situ or online. I am seeking advice and examples at the conference for how to keep conversations and encounters alive when labour and funds for web hosting ebb away. I do not want to write a book or install permanent signage: for me the value of the project is its ability to be found accidentally, to puzzle, to be there in ordinary life. I don’t want it to be completely absorbed into a new “more complete” history of the city. Are there digital tools that can keep surprising people when I am not there to facilitate? I look forward to learning more at the PDA conference.

Q+A Panel

3:20 - 3:50

Coffee Break

3:50 - 5:20

PDA + Community Archives

Outreach as Curation for Community Archives
Lindsay Ogles

With the proliferation of companies designed to digitize personal records and materials, collecting institutions are more frequently being offered digital surrogates while original materials are not being retained after digitization. This can lead to a significant loss and uneven representation of population groups in community archives. Additionally, while more and more community members are gaining access to affordable digitization equipment and methods, understanding the most effective way for them to preserve materials digitally can be a daunting task.

In an effort to provide both education and illustrate the benefits of donating original material, creating an easy to understand outreach program has never been more vital for archives and collecting institutions large and small.

This presentation will discuss an applicable two-pronged approach that community archives can undertake. It will both assist local residents with how to properly preserve their heritage digitally and educate them about the benefits of donating original materials with the goal of creating a communal legacy. Concrete examples of effective outreach techniques will provide attendees with tools to approach all community members regardless of socioeconomic standing, educational level, or technological prowess. Discussion will include the importance of individual heritage in building a community legacy and the role community archives play in preserving that legacy and educating future community members. Additionally, discussion will address benefits to collecting institutions such as increased exposure to the community, decreased conservation expenditures at time of donation due to better preserved original materials, sustainable growth of collections, and the importance of engendering a culture of pride in local history.

Personal Digital Memorials
Aisling Quigley and Chelsea Gunn

The practice of creating online digital memorials for deceased loved ones has become increasingly common. Digital memorials allow geographically dispersed individuals to convene in a central online space where they can remember a departed loved one and connect with others who share in their grief. Dedicated memorial platforms have emerged alongside ad hoc memorials created on the social media profiles of the deceased (for example, Facebook). This project has emerged from personal reflections on the online memorialization processes each of us has observed after the passing of friends. From there, our work describes the types of digital memorials currently in place and explores the conditions of their creation and ongoing maintenance. Specifically, we consider what makes these memorials ephemeral and what factors impact their longevity. In this presentation, we discuss the early, exploratory phases of this research, including an environmental scan of current online memorials and memorialization practices and platforms, and outline next steps for our project. As researchers and practitioners in the information sciences, as well as individuals who have personal experiences in this area, we attempt to negotiate our own affective experiences with digital memorials as we explore our broader questions about their ephemerality and sustainability.

What Is Sextech & Why Is It So Important
Alison Falk

This talk will be discussing a sector of the tech industry that is often swept under the rug. It will give an introduction to what sextech is and is not, as well as the importance of including it in conferences and meetups in order to validate it as a professional career path. It will also discuss why keeping sextech in the shadows and not documenting its innovation can lead to harmful outcomes such as objectification, stifled progress and the possibility of remote sexual assault.

Never Forever: Adapting Archival Practice for Ephemeral Community Records
Harrison Apple, Dani Stuchel, and Tim Haggerty

In an attempt to construct ‘queer archives’ it is necessary to admit that we do not already know what it means to have queer elders. While LGBTQ collecting missions continue to grow internationally, there is room to question what the theoretical baggage of the designation ‘archives’ offers towards a politics of the past. Can we presume archives to not reproduce the historical alienation by a simple change of topic? In this presentation, I use the Pittsburgh Queer History Project (an independent oral history and digital media preservation project) as an example of the tension arising between professional archival practice and the needs of marginalized donors/users of queer archives.

I draw on a larger ‘community-turn’ in archival studies, that emphasizes a participatory and reciprocal preservation practice. Where a late post-modern turn for archival studies in the 1990s emphasized the political complicity of the archivist, a community turn recognizes that there are traditions of records management that exceed the purview of the profession itself. Using the “Vanna (aka Michael Obusek)” Digital Video Collection as a case study, this presentation asks us to think through the possibility of revisiting the efficacy of foundational concepts of provenance, creatorship, and custodianship, looking instead to the conditional and formless intergenerational relationships with queer elders as a grounds for a community archival method.

Q+A Panel

5:20 - 5:30

End-of-Day Announcements

5:30 - 6:30


8:00 - 10:00

Rewind Reading Series at Brillobox