Friday, October 12, 2012

Cloud storage and digital archives


Hello everyone! Since I am new here, I better introduce myself, but briefly. My name is Sarah Kim. I am a PhD student at the School of Information, the University of Texas at Austin. For several years, I have been exploring people’s everyday digital record-keeping practices. Personal digital archiving as a form of long-term digital record-keeping and value-determination practice is the phenomenon that I particularly focus on in my research. I have been asking people how they live with their digital documents. Today, I would like to share one of the questions that I have been thinking of based on my (personal) digital archiving research: Cloud storage and digital archives.

During the interview, I asked participants what they would pick first to rescue if there were a fire at their home, besides living things. Many participants mentioned an external hard drive or a personal computer. Although their answers may be influenced by other record-keeping related interview questions, if someone asks me the same question, I would think of taking my external hard drive that functions as my own digital archives (not as mere back-up storage). Digital documents (including pictures) stored on that device are vital for me to rebuild and continue my life. 

Recently, many IT companies are offering cloud computing services as massive data storage. IT researchers and practitioners often call cloud computing a new paradigm for computing. In fact, many people are already using cloud services to conduct their work and/or non-work related activities (e.g., Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox and many others). Cloud storage has a potential as a future platform for personal digital archives (as well as digital storage of memory institutions  — Interesting survey results of National Digital Stewardship Alliance member preservation storage systems: http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/2012/01/partly-cloudy-trends-in-distributed-and-remote-preservation-storage-more-results-from-the-ndsa-storage-survey/).

This makes me curious about how my participants’ answers will change once they actively start using cloud storage to keep and preserve their personal digital documents and furthermore how our digital archiving practices will change with the new technology?

(Well-known New Yorker Cartoon by Mick Stevens, Published November 21, 2011)

It is highly likely that more people (and memory institutions) will be interested in using cloud storage as their digital archives considering benefits associated with it and the overall trend in IT industry. Cloud storage, (expected to be) maintained and monitored by IT experts, could be a relatively more secure place, considering the technical vulnerability of  more conventional digital storage media that many people are using such as external hard drive. Cloud storage services offer other useful functions such as sharing documents with others, synchronizing digital materials between different devices, tagging, and so forth. Also, cloud computing is still in early stages of development in general.

There are, however, many questions to ask to clear the cloud of cloud computing. For example, concerns for privacy (We are very familiar with horror stories about data hacking, personal information selling, identity theft and so forth) and feeling of losing control over their personal documents (Who owns what on the Web?), and building trust between users and services providers (How much can we trust the work ethics and long-term sustainability of these commercial services?) remain vital issues that we need to think of. 

From an archival perspective, I think, memory institutions’ (especially archives) working experiences with cloud storage service providers can offer a great insight into how we can inject archival thinking (e.g., what archives means, values of documents, and so forth) and practices in the design and development of these services. 

Thank you for reading.
Sarah Kim 
(Personal digital archives research blog: http://personaldigitalarchives.blogspot.com/)

16 comments:

  1. I certainly think that even without record-keeping related questions, people would still run for their hard drives. In my case, yes I would, because all of my work and personal files are in it. I’d rather lose my clothes but not my files because they are important for future references.

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  2. I certainly think that even without record-keeping related questions, people would still run for their hard drives. In my case, yes I would, because all of my work and personal files are in it. I’d rather lose my clothes but not my files because they are important for future references.

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  3. I think the things you covered through the post are quiet impressive, good job and great efforts. I found it very interesting and enjoyed reading all of it...keep it up, lovely job..
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  4. The Blog title is the name of the album and the number in brackets next to it tells you the number of images currently stored. At the bottom of the page, you can see a message in green small font which gives you an overall idea of how much storage space all your Blog images have taken up. www.acnc.com

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  5. I agree to your participants! Especially this era, everything can be kept digitally, making our lives easier for better document access (unless your drive underwent computer repair in long island, then reformat will be your best enemy!).

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  6. Hello! Are you mostly an active online visitor or you are more into being offline?

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  7. What a great post! Thank you for sharing. Is it a bad thing that most people said they would go for their hard drives/ computers? I would have to agree with them, not only does it have all my work and personal files, I have family photos stored as well. Your next question should be what they would do after the fire..update their status on Facebook would probably be a popular answer sadly enough.

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  9. This is a great ideas and information.. It do helps me a lot on my research..


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  10. During the interview, I asked participants what they would pick first to rescue if there were a fire at their home, besides living things. Many participants mentioned an external hard drive or a personal computer. Although their answers may be influenced by other record-keeping related interview questions, if someone asks me the same question, I would think of taking my external hard drive that functions as my own digital archives (not as mere back-up storage).7 inch digital photo frame

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  11. Companies should have a strong cloud storage because it is a needed factor these days for their business to be successful.

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  12. What a great post! Thank you for sharing. Is it a bad thing that most people said they would go for their hard drives/ computers? I would have to agree with them, not only does it have all my work and personal files, I have family photos stored as well. runescape for gold

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  14. A very informative article about cloud storage and digital archives. Hopefully, companies or organisations and even individuals who are keeping bulks of paper in their establishment will adopt to this technology since this can provide them with several benefits.

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  15. This storage place have the best pricing around the area. (I shopped around a little) and they are the most organized too! Also went in last weekend to pick up boxes and it was pretty busy again.

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  16. I have been considering Cloud storage. I currently use a 4T external hard drive, and am dreading the day is tells me it is almost full. Thanks for the information. Cute cartoon too!

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