This is also a topic that keeps me up at night. Not just because I’m paranoid about losing my own personal history (I document and track everything on my laptop, in addition to keeping and collecting projects, photos, correspondence, music, videos, and more), but because it a HUGE problem in personal information management, and you can’t just build some tool to try to fix it.
There’s such an expertise component to being able to even attempt to keep stuff for the long term. Compared to a lot of my friends and all of my family, I am “a computer genius,” which makes me shake my head because to me it’s obvious there is so much I do not know. But if I can’t figure out what the best way to keep my stuff is, how can someone who doesn’t understand the directory structure of their computer, but has all of their digital images stuck “in there somewhere”?
There is also so much education to be done, just about the problems. So many people think that if you burn it to a DVD, you have it forever…
I’ve been following Cathy Marshall‘s work on this (footnotebegin)Marshall, Catherine C. (in press). How people manage personal information over a lifetime. To appear in William P. Jones, and Jaime Teevan, Eds. Personal Information Management: Challenges and Opportunities.Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. (pdf available here)(footnoteend), and it will come into my dissertation work to some extent.