What does it mean to have your data in digital form?

Kodak: From “Remember The Day In Pictures” to “Remember using a Kodak camera?”

Kodak Ad, Life Magazine, Oct 10, 1949: Keep 'Family History' in snapshots For nearly 125 years Kodak’s reason for existence has been to provide the tools for people to create memories.
“Remember the day in pictures.”
“Keep ‘Family History’ in snapshots.”
“Remember the visit with snapshots.”
“For over 100 years people have trusted their memories to Kodak film.”
Kodak, the company that started in 1880 and popularized the film camera and invented the digital camera, recently announced that they’re no longer going to manufacture digital cameras and photo frames. How does one think of a dying behemoth? And not just any corporate behemoth, but a company that has been integral to capturing and storing our memories? Their 1970s ad said, “We’re America’s storyteller celebrating life with you –picturing the stories of everything you do.” Now Kodak is transforming into a memory.

Kodak ads in Life Magazine during the 1940s and 1950s.

There are three ways to consider this transformation.

The “Wow. Just wow.” factor

Most of the stories I’ve seen fit in this category . Wow. Kodak is no longer making digital cameras. Wow. Kodak is the company that invented the digital camera. The company has been around, like, forever. Look at that. Such a change. Wow. It just takes your breath away.

Let the Children Kodak.  Advertising Ephemera Collection - Database #K0079 Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Over my lifetime, I’ve shot pictures with an Instamatic camera, and a Pocket Instamatic (using Kodak film, of course.) When I got a 35mm Single Lens Reflex, I kept using Kodak film—lots of Kodak film. When I took a photography class, I bought Kodak chemicals and photo paper. I got a Kodak slide carousel projector ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 29, 2012 in • DigitalityInterviewingLongevityMemorabiliaObsolecencePhotographs
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Shocking Truth about Thin-skinned CDs (or why you should never write on a CD with a Sharpie)

I’d heard the adage that the top surface of a CD or DVD is thinner and more fragile than the bottom surface, but until I went on a cleaning bender, I didn’t get it. I reallly didn’t get it. It’s true, it’s true– the top layer of CDs and DVDs are thin. Shockingly thin. Here is a photo gallery of the CD that taught me just how fragile a writeable CD is.

After the holidays, I went on a desk and home office cleaning frenzy. Under a pile of papers, I discovered a disk that failed when I’d burned it. (also known as a “coaster!”) 

“Oh bummer,” I said. “A Bad CD. What’s it doing here? I should toss it out.” Then I remembered that I’ve wanted to destroy a disk just to see how it was put together. “Allrightie, then! I’m going to break this lil’ puppy!” I began to bend the CD. I figured that it would soon snap, but it bent and kept bending. At the crease, I noticed that a ripple appeared. It looked like a buckle or oblong bubble in the rainbow foil.

Strange! What is that? I bent the CD some more, then dug at the bubbly area ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 22, 2011 in • AudioAudio: HardwareDigitalityLongevity
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My Christmas: A Shrine to Obsolete Technology

Sony Walkman Tape Player The centerpiece of my Christmas was inspired by a two-month old news story: Sony Walkman Cassette Player Dies In Japan, Lives On in U.S.

Launched in 1979, the 31-year-old portable media player will no longer be sold in Japan. (It will continue to be available in the U.S., but not indefinitely)

How did that news story turn into a work of art celebrating obsolete magnetic media technology?


I saw the story. “Hey, Doc M, Sony has stopped making the Walkman tape player.”

(No, I don’t call him Doc M; I call him by his real name. But Doc M is the ablogymous name I use for him when I write about him on the internets.)

Doc M: “I have a Walkman. I wanted to sell it on eBay, but it’s busted. So now it’s just a piece of junk. Typical.”

Susan: “Oooh. Can I see it? Can I photograph it?”

Doc M emerges from the other room with the player.

Susan: “When did you get this?”

Doc M: “I’m not sure exactly. It was top of the line in, like, the early 90s.”

We pause, looking at the black and silver case. It feels heavy and solid. Green surrounds the play button.

Susan: ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 03, 2011 in • AudioDigitalityObsolecence
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The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States

Cover of PDF report: The State of Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age, by the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress Catching up now that I’m back from a family reunion: The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: A National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age. What is happening to our collection of sound recordings now that we’re turning the corner to digital formats? This August 2010 publication is published by the Council on Library and Information Resources and the Library of Congress.

Background, as stated by Librarian of Congress: A collection of “disturbing anecdotal evidence” described the thread to sound recordings (dating back to the 19th century) came to the attention of Congress, which passed the The National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-474). That law directed that the Librarian of Congress “...implement a comprehensive national sound recording preservation program…” and study the issues that need to be addressed in order to preserve our national heritage in sound recordings. This publication is part of the result.

Spools of blank CDs and DVDs, with envelopes and special marker pens (A photo taken while unpacking from the family reunion trip. Very on-topic for matters of Digital Preservation.)

From the abstract:

This is the first comprehensive, national-level study of the state of sound recording ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 14, 2010 in • DigitalityVideo
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Digital Family History as understood by Digital Natives with 500 IRL Facebook friends

Maiden Aunt w iPod It’s not the same thing as what Ye Olde Maiden Aunt used to collect and curate. An intriguing article by fellow Association of Personal Historians member Jane Lehman-Shafron, she notes the current trends (look! TV shows! Newspaper articles!), but also points out how family history in digital form is being used by the next generation, the Digital Natives who grow up immersed in computing technology.

The form that family history is taking changes with the times. 

Today’s younger generations are more interested in family history than ever before. The whole country is. But they are demanding that those maiden aunts (and all the rest of us who fulfill the function of “family historian”) get with the times. They want their family history accessible and they want it compelling.

Speaking as the


single Aunt whose spent a lot of time in the technology industry—I’m even called AuntiAlias—it’s a computer graphic pun (know what anti-aliasing is?), I’m one of those Aunts who is pushing everyone forward in digital pursuits when it comes to family history.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 26, 2010 in • DigitalityGenealogyPersonal History
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I’m following Digital Death Day today. Remotely

Digital Death Day: RIP, bits What happens to your bits after you die? That’s the premise behind the Digital Death Day unconference, currently in progress. (On twitter, check out the #ddd2010 hashtag). I’ll be posting provacative tweets and topics here on an ongoing basis.

Why does Family Oral History deal with digital death? The recordings of conversations that are saved in digital formats is the deliberate creation of digital bits that are meant to last longer than the speakers whose voices are recorded therein. It’s an edge-case of the central phenomenon explored at the conference. What happens to your bits once you die?

Here, in no particular order, are tweets from those in attendance, as a kind of thought-piece about the digital lives we have. Plus, for me, having experienced three deaths of people close to me in less than a year (and many more remote as friends’ parents shake off this mortal coil), it’s highly relevant.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 20, 2010 in • DigitalityLongevityPersonal History
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Digital Death Day

What happens to your bits when you die? Digital Death Day takes place on May 20, 2010 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. It’s an unconference set to explore what happens when a person dies. What happens to your digital assets? How do you probate digital assets? What about jointly held digital assets? What happens to your digital avatars? What are the policies about your email account upon death?

Since this is an unconference, the exact agenda will be created the morning of the conference by attendees. Conference price is $75 before May 13, and $100 thereafter.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 13, 2010 in • Digitality
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Not your father’s iPod… well, actually it is (a Walkman)

image For Sony Walkman’s 30th anniversary, 13-year old Scott Campbell tries it for a week. Hilarious for us oldsters to see our old fave equipment through a young-person’s eyes.

My dad had told me it was the iPod of its day.
He had told me it was big, but I hadn’t realised he meant THAT big. It was the size of a small book.

Size? cumbersome. Handy belt-clip, but with that weight? (you hafta read the article to find out its effect for current 13 year olds).

When I wore it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks, a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

Though one teacher got nostalgic. Two tantalizing questions:

How long did it take for Campbell to figure out that there was a side B to this tape?

And how did he create his own impromptu “Shuffle” effect?

You hafta read the article to find out the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on June 29, 2009 in • AudioAudio: HardwareDigitalityLongevityMemorabilia
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London: Digital Lives Research Conference

image Feb 9-11 in London: 1st Digital Lives Research Conference is from the project of interest to “individuals who wish to manage their own personal digital collections for family history, biographical or other purposes.”

There’s a blog associated with the Project/Conference. Have no idea if there’ll be postings from the conference, as the blog’s author, Jeremy John said, “My new year resolution is to blog more frequently.” (ahem, Jeremy. I can relate!)

Conference topics include:

  • Digital Lifelines: Practicalities, Professionalities and Potentialities
    • Aspects of Digital Curation
    • Digital Economy and Philosophy
    • On the Monetary Value of Personal Digital Objects
    • Digital Preservation
    • Practical Experiences
    • Professional Matters Arising, Options for the Future and Resolutions
  • Personal Information Lifecycles: Creator, Curator, Consumer

    • Personal Information Management and Usability
    • Forensics, Authenticity, ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 08, 2009 in • Digitality
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Preserving Your Digital Memories

Digital Preservation -dot- gov’s What You Can Do page : highlights your biggest digital at-risk items: email, computer files, storage disks, digital files, and the needle-in-a digital haystack problem of finding what you want in a pile of digital material.

Preserving a digital object is not the same as preserving, say, a book or photograph. You can put a book on a shelf or a photo in a box and (if kept dry and safe) look at it 50 years later. The same is not true with a digital object. This is why, in many cases, digital materials are considered more fragile than physical ones.

OMG! You can take a DID YOU KNOW? quiz, too.*

*I took it. Missed one because I was thinking more of my own “don’t break the web” habits than, say, how quickly news stories disappear from news websites.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 11, 2008 in • Digitality
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Archiving Geospace

Kewl! UCSB Librarian Named “Pioneer of Digital Preservation” … by the Library of Congress. The pioneer? Larry Carver. At first glance (all I’ve taken), it looks like a cross between Google Earth and an über reference librarian.

“Geospatial technology in the context of libraries is to create software to search for information by pointing to a place on the Earth’s surface and — say using the Internet — ask what data, books, art, etc. is available for that spot or location. It searches by using longitude/latitude coordinates to look for information about that spot. So, the technology is a complex software that can search over millions of maps, aerial photographs, satellite imagery, or any other information that has location information in its metadata [catalog record].”

Okay, it has nothing to do with oral history. Unless you’ve got a project that calls on lat-long data. (latitude longitude)  But it’s cool ...สล็อตออนไลน์ ได้เงินจริงRead More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 10, 2008 in • Digitality
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CDs and DVDs: Tons of good info

The Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs, A guide for librarians and archivists. Found while researching the layer-cake sandwich of materials in an optical disk. Disk structure page. Did you know that the top side of a CD-R is thin and fragile? I mighta mentioned it before, but this underscores it, in a big way.

Also of note: the tests for aging and shelf-life of CDs and DVDs that you can burn yourself is that their pre-writing shelf life is limited to some 5 years or so. By all means, stock up, but don’t stock up too much.

Gold disks are the best. But that’s a topic for another post.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on December 19, 2007 in • ArchivingDigitalityLongevity
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Motion picture sci/tech report on archiving

[updated] Hollywood Reporter reports that (the Oscar organization)’s Science/Tech council’s released 64-page report on archiving. From the looks of it, the limits of digital are being manifest. I’d like to look closer to see how much of an overlap there is for motion picture industry’s archiving existing work and how to preserve audio and visual recordings that are born digital.

Update [18 November]: I went to the web site and inquired if the paper was available. Not in downloadable form, but if I supplied my name and address, they’d send me a copy. I did. The paper just arrived. It’s 74 pages (full color, nice production!) I’ll give it a read and report on any findings relevant to people doing family oral history.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 06, 2007 in • DigitalityLongevity
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Family Visiting Headaches thanks to Digital Tools

At a family gathering, an internet cafe: “I wasn’t a house host anymore, I was running a Kinko’s. […] with a house brimming with guests, a cousin cornered me in my office with a multimedia challenge. She had brought a DVD made from family movies shot in the early 1930s. I was able to play it on my computer, but I ran aground trying to make a copy of it.”

Uh oh, I recognize myself there!

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 31, 2007 in • Digitality
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Tribal Linguistic History using Digital Tools

Chuksani-speaking Native Americans preserve language using military-tech translators. This is what happens when speakers of a nearly extinct language get their hands on the latest DoD-inspired smart electronic gadgets. [via Dangerousmeta]

Jane Wyatt, 62, of Coarsegold, and her sister, Holly, 65, were among six tribal members who gathered Friday across the street from the Picayune Rancheria’s busy Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold to try out a newly acquired “Phraselator.”

The electronic translator was developed just a few years ago from technology used for military translators, said Don Thornton of Thornton Media Inc., based in Banning. Thornton Media is working with 70 tribes in the United States and Canada to preserve native languages, he said.

“What’s my name?” he asked the box in his hand. He pressed another button and it replied in what Thornton said was Chukchansi.

The Wyatt sisters learned the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on August 24, 2007 in • Digitality
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