Have you been introduced to the concept of The Digital Dark Age? If not, check out this NPR Article and then come back for my thoughts. I’m not into the scare tactics and I don’t think that’s what they’re trying to do here. Vint Cerf comes from a place of authority, so it’s worth a second thought. I, like most digital consumers, want make sure that I don’t lose any valuable family data. So before you freak out about “going dark,” know that there are some pretty simple steps you can take to keep your digital assets and family history safe.
It’s all about balance. Just like your diet, you can’t eat all junk and you have to eat your vegetables. You also need to balance your backup plan by using technology and print. I’m reasonably confident that I’ve got a solution in place that keeps my photos backed up in case of a catastrophic event in my home, and I’ve also got my favorite photos printed in case there’s some sort of digital migration problem. As long as those two things don’t collide, I think I’ll be ok. If they do happen at the same time, we’ve got a whole other set of issues to handle.
First off, don’t just scan and toss. Sure, toss the paper and pictures that won’t burn you if you ever need it and can’t get it digitally. Keep copies of your taxes, favorite photos, and other important personal documents.
Next up, print your favorite photos. Set up a schedule of downloading your pictures to your computer and rating them. Then print out your highest rated photos on a regular basis. Printing your photos is one of the best ways to “backup.” Use easy slip and slide albums or archival boxes for storage. It doesn’t have to be a fancy scrapbook. No technology required to page through your albums, so no technology failure to keep you from enjoying your photos. Those pictures in albums kept in a stable environment, can last upwards of 100 years. Those camera cards and DVD’s full of photos…not so much.
My final thought is that less is sometimes more. So to manage the printing and album process, don’t print everything. Pick your best and print. If you print everything you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and then you’ll stop, and you’ll be right back where you started. Print the ones that really matter. Your future generations will thank you.