Why not just...
Why not print out the photographs and put them in an album?
Storage solved, no worry about tech decline, and choose the best photos for posterity.
While it may be true that the web has an infinitely long memory, I'm struggling to figure out where to store pictures and anecdotes from the lives of my children. Given how quickly fashions change on the web - from MySpace to Facebook to Instagram to Twitter - it's hard to believe that anything, no matter how dominant it is …
"... use a printer that uses pigment inks ..."
If you want good quality prints that will last, real photographic prints (wet process) are still your best bet. And it may be significantly cheaper. I pay 1.50 euro for a a stunning 12" x 8" print on archival grade paper, matte or glossy according to preference. That's very hard to beat for any inkjet printer out there. Postcard sized prints on ho-hum paper (but still pretty good compared with inkjet) are a mere 15 to 20 cents each.
Or, as in my case, you lent the camera to a couple of kids who were in the group you went with, and let them take 100s of photos.
And yes, I did have a lot of fun on that holiday (which is, after all, the general idea).
Actually, regarding the article, I am surprised Matt has published this article. Not that there is anything wrong with it, it's just it doesn't show his normal point of view.
Actually, it's a good article and, IMO, outlines the problems with any cloud based storage and publishing medium. Simply put, how do you know it's going to be around?
It's all very well uploading all your family photos and videos to a service like facebook, google plus or instagram, but how do you know they will be around in 5-10 years? Facebook is the current top social network site, but ten years ago, Myspace was in that position, with Bebo looking a likely second place. Google will probably be around, but they have a habit of dropping services with little warning if they aren't being used (Google Video, Wave etc). Instagram is currently doing well, but that may get replaced with the next top sharing site.
Even if their popularity isn't waning, and they aren't replaced by the next best thing, a lot don't have a sustainable business model, and, in some cases, don't have a good system of policing content. Who's to say the bailiffs won't turn up at the datacentre one day and remove the server(s) holding your content because they couldn't afford the loan payments on those servers? Who's to say that the Police won't turn up one day with a warrant to seize servers and disk arrays (thinking of Megaupload here)?
These comments apply equally to business. While it's horrible if Mrs Smith loses her prized photos of her Son growing up, she can probably live without them. Can a business survive without the information it loses if it's one and only cloud provider goes tits up? Yes, I know that they should have usuable and verified backups, but how many are going to bother with that as a big selling point with cloud services is that they are already backed up.
Re: Why not just...
Yeah that's going to work for the over 1,000 photos I took on my recent holiday.
You'll not bother looking at 950 of them cos they are crap snaps, probably after you've invited friends round for a slide show presentation of your holiday.
Note: my sister in law put us through the misery of a 3 hour holiday slide show of 670 pictures and explanations. I let the side down by snorting a snore from the back row. Well in my defence I was bored.
Spot on, even in the days of roll film the best professionals would admit to being as happy as a pig in poop if they got a couple of worthwhile shots on a roll (36 exp) the rest went binwise in fact never got past the contact sheet (thumbnails by todays standard) its a major problem with digital that people save garbage just because they can. Be ruthless bin the bad stuff and keep the worthwhile so you do not look an idiot when you share a pile of badly focussed badly composed over exposed wastes of time and cyberspace. Personally I publish a few of mine on our blog at www.classicrockradio.eu to publicise artists and gigs I willl only use the best three or maybe four I could easily share the two or three hundred taken but we want to have an readership afterwards.
Because prints and film decay. Some of it more quickly than others. Part of why Lucas put so much work into restoring the Star Wars films was because he discovered how badly the originals decayed when he went to re-release them. The stuff we have from the golden era of Hollywood is mostly because of a quirk in copyright law at the time. In order to copyright a film, they had to print books of b&w copies of the three color reels. From the books they were able to recreate the color masters and then re-print the films without loss of color quality.
If you want to maintain your family pictures, you're going to have to store them on what is effectively living medium: whatever your current storage device of choice is, and move them each time the media changes. You can bridge one or maybe two significant technology changes, but once you get beyond that it starts to become problematic. Most people these days wouldn't be able to transfer data from an MFM hard drive to a SATA drive.
Except that Lucas didn't restore them, he reworked them as well.
Piracy tends to preserve things too. Look at all the Dr Who episodes that were returned to the BBC by "home tapers", people who recorded off the TV and then didn't dispose of the recording when they should have done.
You might say that print and film decay, but we still have copies of the first print photographs ever made. Photographs from the U.S. civil war era are not uncommon. It's hard to imagine any digital medium that will remain that stable for 150+ years, and "you" certainly won't be around to move them when the media changes. They'll quickly reach a point where they're unreadable. You might think of hiring (or starting!) an archiving company that would move them for you, but then you're trusting that company to stay solvent "forever."
Odd as it sounds in the digital age, print is still the most permanent thing we have.
On a related note: I just finished reading Einstein's biography by Walter Isaacson. Much of the biography is based on letters that Einstein wrote and received from family, friends, and colleagues. Where will we learn such things in the future? It's hard to imagine a biography based on "the collected emails of John Doe."
Consider that those glass negatives and silver halide prints of over a century ago are *very* different from today's film negatives and (color) prints.
A friend of mine, when clearing out the attic of an old house in München, found a packet neatly wrapped in kraft paper, containing a stack of glass negatives: early "tart cards" from the 1920's. They were in excellent condition, even after having endured what must have been considerable temperature and humidity swings for maybe 60-80 years. Modern film negatives or slides would have suffered quite a bit under those conditions: the polyester film base is pretty stable, the dyes that make up the image much less.
Same holds for prints: in those old sepia toned prints, the image is made up of insoluble metal salts. As long as the paper doesn't disintegrate, the image will remain. Modern prints are dye based, and while the dyes used are reasonably stable, they will only last if stored under carefully controlled conditions.
I run a server at home that stores photos etc and is accessible over ssh. Then I have a cheap and cheerful virtual server for hosting content I want to share. There are plenty of content management systems that aren't that hard to install.
Call me cynical but I've never really trusted any of these sites or services to be around for long so prefer to do this stuff myself.
All good but still, I wonder how many times you will (have to) move that data over the next 30 years.
It's an interesting article - I have photographs that were taken by relatives that died before I was born, leafing through books of those is fun and if I had kids I'd pass these on to them but is anyone going to be bothered to trawl my home server and look at my pictures when I've kicked the bucket?
ain't no "really like" about it... host your own and then you are the only one to blame when things aren't like you want... my first response to the article was along the lines of "geez... you chose to place your data there... if you don't like what they are doing, that's your fault. host it yourself with your own chosen software." this isn't rocket science, ya know? the only holdback is those ISPs that don't allow one to host their own servers on the standard ports but there's ways around that, too... in the old days, in another network before (d)arpanet became the commercial mess that it is, we were told to vote with our feet... and that still stands today... there are too many sites that have fallen to this... myspace is but one of those :P
I am still of the opinion that a service that simplifies (1) enough that the non-IT masses can do it and adds in 2A) Allow your friends who have similar websites to post on your news feed automatically when they post news on their website (with some form of authentication obviously) Will be the next Big Thing. After all, Facebook is basically a collection of blogs under a common interface that simplifies sharing. This interface has been done before, but not as well as FB does it I don't think. Once FB loses it's lead in that area all it has left is the momentum of having a pre-existing userbase, and the cracks are already starting to show there.
Buy a domain name, by some cheap wysiwyg web editor (or if your skills extend far enough buy or write your own template or use one of the free PHP scripted online photo albums), pick up a cheap hosting package and do it all yourself.
You stay in control, you've not agreed to some slightly dubious T&C's with vague policies over image ownership and if your hosting company ever closes just find another one...
However when you're pressed for time as you often are when you want to share family photos (kind of comes with having a family) you kind of need to be able to drag, drop, and upload (if you've not got a home server) and let it take care of orientating and optimising photos, optimising videos, logins, tags, and comments. iWeb was sort of half-way there apart from it generated code which didn't work well on anything apart from Safari.
I'm still not sure if there's anything out there which does this, and less so open source which is generally developed by people who haven't got to that stage in life yet so simply aren't aware of just what's needed.
Joomla (and no doubt Wordpress) website with a couple of plugin.
Most hosting companies will build the site for you with something like softilicous via your cpanel and bish bash bosh, up and running in no time. Quick search for a free template iof you want to give it a nicer feel and away you go. Use Akeeba to back up to your pc and if you move hosts, you just upload your backup to them.
Best thing is YOU control access. Set all pages except home to restricted, give your friends a user name and password and jobs a good one.
Hell you can even go further and use something like Community Builder to do your own mini facebook.
A good CMS will have a good gallery or album type module.
I use ImpressCMS myself - with it's very nice "album" module... combined with a useful tagging plugin to help organise them.
Add a simple module to make a blog - and who needs facebook... except to tell your facebook chums where to go :)
joomla and wordpress... riiiight... they continually show up on the @RISK list and if it isn't them directly, it is their mods that haven't been checked and validated... this goes for almost all CMS and blog systems out there... sorry, thanks but no thanks...
Indeed. You can get single domain hosting for £5 for two years, .co.uk domain names for around £6 for two years (maybe less if you can be arsed looking). Even easier than a WYSIWIG editor, a decent hosting provider will generally have idiot-proof Wordpress installation packages, and Wordpress itself is very easy to pick up if you're prepared to invest a bit of time learning where everything is.
You have the freedom to move pages around, update the theme (styling) with a few clicks, set the security and of course, it's permanent. A much better option than volatile social network blogging/ storage, and not THAT much more technical.
"Anyone ever heard of Gopher...?"
If we define "usage" (and hence importance) in terms of the number of users multiplied by the amount of activity (clicks, views, etc.) per week (*), how much do we think HTML and the modern web outweigh Gopher (at its peak) by?
I'd be willing to guess it's in the tens of thousands at the very least.
That said, running one's own website isn't the same as archiving, and requires active maintenance, so it's unlikely that even if HTML and the web were becoming obsolete that the owner would blindly keep it going in the same form without changing it.
(*) Note that this metric excludes bandwidth, as I don't think a twofold or tenfold increase in that area necessarily indicates a comparable increase in importance, and would probably count against Gopher when judging it against a modern, bandwidth-heavy site.
In case they are still around in 20 years. He should make his own choice about that when he can understand the consequences.
Well backed up (USB drives) rotated to offsite locations (relatives houses) every couple of months. My upstream bandwidth is too slow to do it over the network.
I created my son an account, to which I've been adding photo albums from birth. None of the albums are public or viewable by anyone outside the immediate family. When he's old enough I'll let him have the password, and he can choose what to do with the documentation so far of his life.
"...Which, again, brings me back to the digital memorabilia for my family. Over the last two years I've been a heavy Facebook user, storing family pictures, stories, and more..."
Well, more fool you then! What do you want the intarwebs to do about t? You're the one who was dumb enough to entrust your entire digital archive to a freebie flavour-of-the-month hipster moron hangout. If you want a digital archive with a chance of permanence buy some storage from a company with a business model which involves receiving income in return for the successful long-term storage of user data.
"...I have zero confidence that Facebook is going to be around 30 years from now, much less 10..."
Are we witnessing the birth of the next "I could care less..." here?
I think you mean: "10... much less 30..."
I've got a couple of old 6x9 cm cameras I use to take a few pictures of the family with. A fiddle developing the rollfilm (I do it myself), but I figure in 40-odd years when they're cleaning out my stuff a shoebox full of big old negatives is going to be easier to deal with than a collection of thumb-drives etc.
I scanned a couple of dozen glass plates my wife's family had stashed away and they came up nicely; if I didn't have a scanner I'd have built a simple light box and used my DSLR.
Actually, even well-made colour prints and slides are viewable after ~40 years, as I have discovered when recently looking at pictures my parents have taken of me. The best look almost as if they had been printed yesterday. Of course, there are also some badly faded ones, but nothing that is completely lost.
Contrast this with digital media, where preservation is an "all-or-nothing" affair, and after decades without recopying to new media, the result is more likely to be "nothing".
I shoot a good deal of film these days, as well as digital imagery. And I'm inclined to agree that my negatives are far more likely to survive the next century intact than are the ones and zeroes that reside on today's digital storage mediums.
Your data is safer and less likely to be abused
a) On some obscure server in some obscure data center than you don't control
b) Burnt and sent to Santa Claus for safe keeping
c) Shredded and mixed up, so you can later re-assemble it
... Getting back to the serious answer, never rely upon a 3rd party, especially one that is trying to monetize your data. Instead build yourself a NAS server with RAID, then if you want to share some photos upload them to Facebook or Google+, but at least you have your primary copy local and know you can always get access to it (even if facebook went tits up!).
Arrrgghh... RAID is for uptime, and sorry but there is still a good amount of consumer grade RAID that is less than optimal from a reliability standpoint.
If you know what you're doing and understand the risk, then by all means go for it. Just know/understand that RAID does not mean you can skip backups/redundant-copies if you really care about your data.
You should not rely on any online service to either warehouse your "memories", or keep them away from unwanted eyes. They're offering a free service and you get what you pay for.
So far as formats go, anything you decide to archive off, and store in a box in the loft today will be the equivalent of being written in "olde english" in 25 years time - if there's even any reliable hardware to access your chosen storage method. So the only viable solution is to keep the stuff you value, yourself. Hold the original source on your primary computer (and on a second computer 'natch) and occasionally add new copies in formats that seem likely to stick around for a reasonable length of time - lossless wherever possible.
While that might seem like an imposition, it'll help you decide what is REALLY worth keeping, and what turned out to be an impulsive decision to capture an obscure (and almost always) embarrassing moment for posterity. If you can't be arsed to keep your "precious" memories current, then they're probably not that precious after all.
You can't depend on any company being around long enough to safeguard your pictures and videos. I use Flickr for sharing, not long term storage. I also think having monolithic storage systems. like NAS, at home is probably not much better as you've got a lot of vendor lock-in and a single point of failure. Over the years I've stuck to using my files in their most basic formats (jpg) and arranged in folders. I back these up using rsync to whatever is mainstream media. 15 years ago it was Zip disks. Once they became obsolete I moved to CD, then DVD and now to commodity USB hard drives that I rotate. Eventually they'll become obsolete and I'll move on again. I learnt from Zip disks to avoid as much proprietary technology as possible so the files can be read on any device. Ultimately this is a problem not even people like the British Library have been able to solve - the best I think you can do is to keep your storage current, move to new formats when old ones are dying and don't depend on companies to do it for you.
By its very nature the Internet and various Cloud Paradigms are ephemereal. They have the capacity to grow , shrink, modify and completely disappear with the click of a mouse button.
The internet is not a tangible thing, it is akin to thought in that it is dynamic, profoundly large and impossible to cage.
This is not the kind of place that you want to use as an archive for your "private life".
What about burning the stuff to a CD/DVD, or whatever happens to be the media of the moment? It might not be "Web 2.0", or "cloud" or any other silly buzzword, but it works, is simple and you know what you're getting.
Why do you feel the need to chuck your precious data out into the wild and rely on anyone/anything else to keep it safe for you (which they/it won't)?
Actually, that's NOT what Matt Asay said, at all.
To paraphrase: "store pictures and anecdotes from the lives of my children." and "worry that all of my digital memories are going to be locked into a dead-end" and then "I don't want just my data, but also its presentation"
Which doesn't mandate "the web" at all. In fact, given his gloomy views on the permanence of anything web-based, it's worth considering that the web, itself, may not be permanent or exist long enough to be a viable option.
As a very general rule of thumb, the older a thing (technology, building, company but not person) is NOW, the longer it's likely to survive in the future. On that basis, stick to old technologies: cave painting, clay tablets or maybe just paper.
Just tattoo all your pictures and blog posts onto your skin, if you start running out of skin space, cram loads of doughnuts ( www.krispykreme.co.uk ) to increase your surface area. This eventually becomes self-limiting as:
longer life => more data => more skin area you need => more doughnuts you cram => the fatter you get => the sooner you die => no more storage space needed.
You can even have yourself mummified for really long term storage.
As the article says:
Any thoughts as to the best way to achieve this?
Actually, there is no real "safe" way to archive much of anything. There used to be a Library in Alexandria that went to ashes bunches of years ago (they are making a new one). That was thought to be long lasting. Here in the USA, our census records are pretty long lived, but one has gone to ashes (1890?) already. Stone edifices have lasted quite a while, but weather takes them out after a while (and they have low storage capacity anyway).
History is a fickle thing, it is usually written in the current era, hopefully using "sources" from days gone by. Sometimes things CAN be saved (my family has company documents from a covered wagon company headed out to California during the gold rush in 1849), but good historical documents are the exception.
What to do? Lots of copies, and keep making them. Hopefully they will be on media that can still be used in 10-20-30 years. Nice to keep old units (anyone have 9 track tape drives?) just to make sure.
So, keep those 8 inch floppies, they may be needed!
No doubt. Semi-permanence requires regular rolling migrations. Even if we have the media, there is no guarantee that a suitable mechanical player can be found. If we have the file, there is no guarantee that the file will be compatible with newer versions of software. Aluminum pressings of CDs oxidize, and files get logical corruption on any media. Celluloid deteriorates, and the magnetic particles fall away from the tape it is attached to or gets ghosts from being rolled up. Even the first commercial phonographs are curios now, and that is a mere century. Old 78 record albums can be converted, but it is also a hugely manual process. This applies to just about anything that needs to make the technogenerational cut. If it is important enough it survives.
As far as thinking that getting something into a Cloud DC that has a proper backup and replication? Or even local solutions plus offsite... Logical corruption still happens.
And in a worst case scenario an EMP creates huge technology free zones. And if that doesn't get us then an asteroid, the sun, or the Vogons will. Excuse me while I put a paper bag over my head and lie on the ground. Six pints of bitter please the world is about to end.
...What to do? Lots of copies, and keep making them. Hopefully they will be on media that can still be used in 10-20-30 years. Nice to keep old units (anyone have 9 track tape drives?) just to make sure.
So, keep those 8 inch floppies, they may be needed!
I still have the high-capacity FireWire Zip drive that I bought along with G4 minitower back in '06. I test it out from time to time to make sure the hardware works, and that the test cartridges are still readable. I copied most of my Zip cartridges to CDs -- and then to DVD ROMs -- a few years ago, but I still keep some of the cartridges containing the more important stuff; I even bought a few 750mb blank Zip cartridges recently when Office Depot had them on special. When my budget permits, I'll be making fresh copies of all that material onto compact USB drives.
Much of my more important Hi8 video footage has been transferred to miniDV cassettes -- one of my back-burner projects, for when I have time, is to edit some of that stuff and burn it to DVDs -- but I've still hung on to the old Hi8 cassettes as they're still in good shape.
Still, I drew the line at saving my old SyQuest media. I've only got so much space around here.
Their usage agreements are always entertaining to read. I certainly wouldn't entrust them with any of my memories, regardless of how long I'd expect the company to last.
All my photos are currently backed up on 1TB drives using reasonably sensible open source filesystems, and stored at the homes of a couple of relatives... I'm happy that this has a lifetime of at least 10 years, and at the point at which USB or SATA becomes obsolescent, 1TB of whatever the latest storage tech is will be dead cheap to purchase and it shouldn't take more than a few days to transfer stuff. My various websites and Flickr get the high-res jpegs. Anything that is actually any good gets a print or two.
Yup, that's the way to do it. Facebook's lack of permanence is only a problem if you try to use it as a permanent solution. I store full res copies at home and back them up, then chuck whatever needs sharing at Picasa in default quality.
If you've got the images stored at home then who cares if your social network of choice disappears overnight? You can upload them somewhere else in the morning.
The long-term storage discussion is interesting and does raise an issue though. Techies will transfer their pics as they go along, but a lot of people take photos via their phone and over 4-5 upgrades many of those will get lost. Everybody's granny has a box stashed somewhere, full of old pics but I'm not sure our generation will have the equivalent. We'll have a pile of old phones we can't charge or access and forgotten image libraries scattered across a variety of yesterday's social networks.
At the moment backup all your files to an external hard-disk.
In a few years time you can move them to an external SSD.
In 15 years time copy them to an Optical Hologramatic Store.
In 30 years time copy them to your personal N-space Quantum Store (or Superstring Store)
I've done the same.
Our family photos went from Slides/Paper to Floppy Disks to CD-Rs to DVD-Rs and are now stored on about 4 different HDDs. Having multiple copies is also important so if one "archive" is damaged/lost it can be replaced.
You cannot rely on anyone else, even if you pay for the service as they all get bought out or go under eventually.
If it matters to you, then YOU need to take responsibility for it.
"Our family photos went from Slides/Paper to Floppy Disks to CD-Rs to DVD-Rs and are now stored on about 4 different HDDs. Having multiple copies is also important so if one "archive" is damaged/lost it can be replaced.
You cannot rely on anyone else, even if you pay for the service as they all get bought out or go under eventually.
If it matters to you, then YOU need to take responsibility for it."
Well said. My stepfather has done the same thing. He's still got the hardcopies, but all that is backed up digitally, and that too, has backups. All under one roof. Barring a nuclear strike directly above Tempe Arizona, all his precious photos and documents will live on in perpetuity.
As you and many of the posters here have pointed out, you simply cannot trust any online social enterprise to store your precious memories. Here today, gone tomorrow.
There are two needs here that you are using Facebook to address: 1) archival of important data and 2) sharing of content with friends and family
It is easier to arrive at a long term solution by separating the two.
1) can be addressed via the traditional means of offsite backups or the use of a specialized archival service (how MUCH exactly is it worth to you to keep your data? If you want it stored underground in a nuclear bunker, there are companies that provide that service)
2) is trickier but doable - it requires an open standard for social media to be drafted. This would allow people to choose their own implementation for sharing with their friends - many millions would continue to use Facebook and Twitter, while the bulk of the posters on this page would opt for hosting their own standards-compliant server. The standard would ensure that you would be able to "friend" people and "like" content held elsewhere. The biggest obstacle to the execution of this idea is Facebook itself - their value is enshrined in their users' data and any solution that would make it possible for them to move elsewhere would be resisted. However, supporting such an initiative would ensure that they would be able to hold on to SOME market share and would not end up marginalised like MySpace.
Diaspora is more open-source software than open standard - a substantial difference. Nonetheless I wholeheartedly support their mission. I didn't mention them in my comment as, despite their worthy goals, they have so far failed to produce anything tangible. The concept of an open standard in social networking is a good one despite the perceived failures of those trying to execute that concept. To mention Diaspora would have confused the issue of "what to do" with "how to execute it"
The problem is that you ultimately can't have it both ways. You cannot make it somebody else's problem to perpetually store your content for free and expect them to be around forever to provide that free service. If you want to keep the content, both data and presentation, the only way you can ensure that it will be around for the long term is to take care of it yourself.
Something like Freedombox may well be a suitable solution. You keep control of your content, and you can still use online freebie cloud storage (Skydrive, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Dropbox) for backups. You could even organize and flatten your data into static content and upload the lot to several of the above, and have it accessible directly from the mentioned cloud services over HTTP. If one of them goes away, the URL might change, but the content will not. And you can work around the URL changes using your own domain name and a simpleframe redirection service that opens a full screen frame and loads in it the base URL of the content you want accessible from your cloud storage service.
This would give you consistent presentation and content, and mirroring to multiple could storage services would mean you don't rely on any one of them being around forever - and as new ones come up, you can mirror to those, too, to protect yourself against data loss.
> I know I can export my data, but that's not really the point.
> I don't want just my data, but also its presentation.
> I guess what I want is a standard, something boring and... permanent.
Haven't you just contradicted yourself there?
Personally I use Flickr, and backup everything, including comments, tags etc using http://hsivonen.iki.fi/photobackup/
There is no permanence to internet based services 'in the cloud' for your personal data. No matter how heavy an internet services user I am, I cannot bring myself to do anything other than store originals of all my data (photo, video, documents) on a hard drive/memory cards. I treat any data I put on the web as disposable - because that is exactly what it is to many of these services, and that is exactly what these services are to many of their VC's.
Facebook etc is just a way to share for me, not a way to horde/keep/store safely for myself.
Ever hear of that company known as Seagate? Put all the photos and documents on your hard drive. Use a long-lasting format, such as those from the OpenDocument Foundation or MS .doc/.docx, or PDF. Keep your photos as .jpg. Configure automatic backups for your hard drive, and keep at least one backup off-site.
I've hung onto things for the last 20 years this way, I fully expect to be able to deliver tens of thousands of photos to my child as well. Sorry if it is "boring" or "90's." Automobiles are "boring" and "early 20th century" but they still work great for what they were designed for.
I have been musing about the same thing and I believe the only safe solution (if one wants to store pictures on the web, instead of a shoebox) is redundancy. For example, I have put pictures on both Picasa and Skydrive (and some to Opera's photo sharing site).
However, the uploaders of the sites make massive redundancy massively laborious. What is needed is an program that uploads you pictures to multiple cloud services automatically. You would designate a set of pictures to back up, and the sites you use (+ any needed authentication info), and the application would do the heavy lifting without further questions, so you could leave it running overnight.
Wish I had time to write this myself...
iPhoto/Aperture. As well as a local archive it can post to multiple clouds, as well as DIY stuff. Does mean you need a Mac.
The only problem is every new version it needs to "convert" your local archive which is annoying and can lead to corruption if you failed to backup first (woo hoo for Time Machine)
Sorry all, I am not a grammar Nazi or anything like that and I know it is off topic BUT :
When you an "x much less y" structure such as:
"20 years from now, much less 2" or
"30 years from now, much less 10"
x should be a smaller number than y.
Phew! I feel better, for some reason that was doing my head in.
For the past 2 or three years I've found a combination of Imgur.com for pictures, Vimeo.com for movies and the Super Dimension Fortress freeshell.org (need to email them a one dollar bill for a web account) for the text and meta works adequately.
My point is though, that the whole lot is backed up multiple times on machines I own, and I've picked services which happen to have a convenient way to automatically shove the latest content on line from a shell script. If one of those entities drops off the web, I'll pick another with a non-interactive means of publishing content and tweak my scripts to suit. That way, the content will be available as long as I can be bothered to keep it maintained.
It's a cheap way to do it. And archive.org hoovers up everything at irregular intervals too.
...which is to save my memories on DVD ROMs and a flash drive or three, in protected zippered binders on a bookshelf in my studio, and keep the original fotos in a proper foto album, and perhaps print copies of some of the better fotos on some coated photographic inkjet stock and frame them on acid-free mounting board.
I think the expectation is too high. Less than 30 years ago I was writing articles on a typewriter. Then I moved to a computer using five and a quarter inch floppy disks and then to a computer using three and a half inch disks and now I'm using a combination of online storage and an external hard drive.
Since I've moved to electronic storage I've managed to migrate some of the material from one format to another. I have no doubt that I shall have to go on doing that. The real problem is that, as time goes by, the sheer volume of stuff that has to be transferred is growing.
Move on a thousand years and most likely historians will know far less about the first half of the 21st century than any other due to the loss of digital records and data.
By the 22nd century I bet there will be less actual usable archive material from the 21st Century then the 19th and 20th.
... Unless you don't mind them resizing the pictures to meet their standards, discarding the original source, and doing bog-only-knows what to/with the meta data. One of my friends lost their originals from a hard drive crash- the facebook copies are the only copies he will ever have. He's a bit wiser now. (I know, no backups, yadda yadda.) However, your average Bob is not going to bother with keeping multiple redundant copies of their stuff (at least intentionally) or anything massively complicated or something that needs regular maintenance. I will admit that I dread moving web hosts, largely due to the 4+ GB of photos that I have hosted and the lack or portability with the meta data on said pictures. (long story, don't ask)
I started a similar project of taking all the photo's from my family and archiving them.
Picasa is a local application that stores all sorts of photo meta data within the JPG using the appropriate standards (GPS, Albums, dates, comments, etc..). The face tagging feature is linked to a people profile it creates (people are linked to email addresses) and works remarkable well (requires little training).
Picasa Web Albums allow you to upload your photo albums online, there is a major bug with the "people" aspect in Picasa Web Albums where it seems to create a person for each album (so you can get hundreds of identical people). Luckily the Picasa local application merges these people, google have been moving towards Google+ which fixes this (online viewing) problem if the person has a Google+ profile.
I went for this solution as online storage is cheap (I get 20gb for £5 a year, although if you sign up now it is ~£1 pcm). It uses standards so I can move the data around and the local application makes doing all this a pleasure.
I had a look at Flicker and others but Picasa/Google+ seemed to be the only complete package.
You know what, photos just go into an archive, and then get forgotten after you die. Even if they were all on facebook, it might be interesting to look at great grandparents life story online but hasn't everyone got their current lives to get on with? In the past, a fuzzy bacl and white photo and stories passed down the generations held much more inside the imagination. Let digital media rest in peace.
Yeah everyone is worried about the contents of their trivial lives being available for thousands of years like the tombs of the Pharaohs.
On one audio forum I post on they often ask which brand of blank CD gives the longest archive life for playback.
I mentioned that they only have to last for their lifetime. They were perplexed as to why I wouldn't want them to last say 200 years+.
They only have to last your lifetime because as soon as you die, Grandad's dusty old collection of 5000 obscure jazz LP needledrops will be heading for a skip! Same goes for most of your prized possessions.
No one wants old people's crap anymore, just the money, the house and the jewellery if there is any.
Some found that hard to comprehend and others enlightening.
> I mentioned that they only have to last for their lifetime. They were perplexed as to why I wouldn't want them to last say 200 years+.
People's desire for "200+" year life expectancy for a CD/DVD isn't unreasonable when you peel back the statistical curtain. Saying that they only have to "last your lifetime" makes it sound as id a disc with, for example, a 40 year life that's manufactured on Dec 31 1990 will do a Mission Impossible as soon as the clock strikes happy new year in 2030. It won't.
The notional life of a disk means that after that many years, a certain percentage of media will have failed. So if you had 100 discs, you will be unable to read a proportion of them. The longer the stated life, the fewer will be unreadable after a fixed amount of time - provided they are stored properly.
So all your perplexed buddies are really asking for is as small a number of failed discs as possible, not an actual lifespan measured in centuries. The obvious practical solution is to have 1 copy (plus the original) of each disc and to rewrite them at regular intervals. well within the advertised "lifespan" of the media.
You are absolutely correct. We all no no one is using any of those sites designed to help you learn more about your family history. No one cares about anything their grandparents ever did much less what their ancestors further back did. I'm pretty sure ancestory.com is going to fold soon.
Learn some basic PHP, set up a website, put the photos there with the PHP to handle how they are shown/arranged. And for longevity, you can jack into the server (ssh), throw the lot into a tar.gz file, and download it. Thus, in the future, so long as you can find a server that offers PHP, you can recreate everything.
Don't get hung up on the "it has to be pretty" or "you need bells and whistles". You don't. If your point is to show a bunch of photos, people will want to see... a bunch of photos. Fancy fades, clicking thumbnails to "zoom up in a window", that all starts to get very tedious after a while. You'll probably find the most convenient way is to have some navi controls at the top and bottom, but clicking the picture itself will load the next one. Oh, and PHP can make building thumbnails a doddle.
Call me old-fashioned, but a LAN server (of whatever type du decade is appropriate) and regular maintenance (and backups) are all you need to host your own data indefinitely.
By 2042, my house will still have a server, a network and a backup system, even though they may no longer look like tentacled gray boxes in a closet. Face-what?
Social networks are for sharing, not for long term storage. They are only interested in storing your old data so that if you are accused of murder/terrorism/whatever and the newspapers want your life story the social network can make a fortune from you. And you'll probably wish at that point they weren't storing it all.
And when Facebook stops being popular can you export all your photos and videos, or will it take a 1000 page loads and 1000 right-click-save-as actions to get 1000 photos back?
The real solution is: local storage. Disks, memory cards, etc. Throw in some added protection from an online backup company where your data is still yours - definitely not some free-to-use social network. That way if your local media is stolen/fails/burns-down-in-a-house-fire you have an off-site backup. Do remember to test both systems occasionally to be sure you actually have something that works (which if you use a certain Korean brand of hard disk will be required about once every 6 months in my experience!)
Not sure why you are relying on social media sites to vault your data. Buy a NAS or whatever, keep it in your house. Unfortunately, any format or technology you choose will always have a finite life and will require transcoding to the latest format every few years or decades. Unlike paper.
It's an insoluble problem of digital data. Only analogue is (almost) forever.
This warrents an article on El Reg? Its called a Website. They have been around a long time and will continue to be as long as you pay for one.
Your problem is that even though you close your article with how you would pay for a service, in reality you won't. Otherwise you could create a simple website from most hosting tools and post whatever you want on it secure in the knowledge that as long as you continue to pay your "rent", these files will continue to be hosted. But because it costs money this has never crossed your mind which tells me that you are less worried about actually keeping this information in a presentation state and more interested in doing it for FREE. This is a non-article. Now go away.
Long-time (>5 years) archiving is not a new problem in the digital world. In my opinion, currently the most promising solution is the PDF/A standard (A stands for archive). That's PDF as we know it with some restrictions to make it more suitable for archiving.
Being an ISO standard and used by many libraries to back-up their documents, it will certainly be possible to find a reader in 20 years...
Btw, as any PDF, it also maintains the layout and presentation as requested by Matt (now we only need to lobby for an "Export to PDF/A" function in FB - dreaming on...)
With the price of SD cards being next to nothing now a days and the SD medium being around for so long how bout just storing your pics on sd cards and labelling them accordingly, then when you want to view em just plug the card into your smart tv/iPad/laptop/desktop/projector and away you go.
But then there are other peoples pictures of you on holiday etc, you still want those, again the SD card comes in handy when the next time you visit said friend you just take the SD card in question and dump all/some of their pics on.
Isn't this what refrigerators are for - to be covered by pictures of your kids, all held by magnets that are never quite strong enough for the job?
TThe sad thing is most "photo" processing today seems to be scans of the negatives that are then printed out, not actual developed photos on photo paper, so longevity remains to be seen (or not). We've still got family photos from the 40's and 50's - they're a bit faded, but still visible. And we don't need anything more advanced than basic sunlight to view them. Hard to beat that with any of the current "technology of the moment" products such as CDs, flash drives, or any of the rather worthless (for long term storage, at least) websites. For true long-term storage, you've got to break it down to the simplest method available, which IMHO still requires photo paper. Unless you're good with a hammer and chisel...
..as in silver halide prints. Remember them? Actually, it's all still out there and some of us still shoot film and have darkrooms. Memories for posterity because negatives and prints are immune from technology obsolescence. Tech angle? well I've just got a very smart exposure calculator/computer to help with printing.
Keep it on your PC (Automatically backed up of course).
Remote access to your machine.
No worries about which cloud service will last the longest.
"90's" tech it may be, but it's the best option, privacy is not such a great concern, sharing is done on your terms, plus you don't get the "crowd follower" tag and you don't look foolish when blogging about just how bad cloud is at a later date. Win Win.
Google's Picasa web-albums works well and you can choose to use Google+ or not. Family and friends can still comment on each photo if you'd like that.
My questions is.......Why would you give the responsibility of your memories and data to anyone one else but you? Setup your own home server (I have WHS1) and you can store and display/share any number of your family photos using any number of free ad-ons. Just setup regular backups of the server as well. You can use a back-up service for your WHS or do your own and store your backup disks off-site.
There is even free server software you can get and use any old computer you have laying around.
With your own home-server...you can store all your families documents and digital content...and access it using any phone or tablet. Make your own Family Cloud.
Just think how important is this data to you....and how important is it to companies. Not everyone is a quick to give "Control" over to a company whose sole mission is profit.
For things that you want to last, properly developed and properly processed archival prints - monochrome and ideally platinum prints, but there's plenty of evidence that properly made silver halide prints will last a hundred and fifty years and more.
For your electric pictures - as others have said: if it's important, why would you trust it to some 'social network' whose profit motive is not in your control? Buy a website - tenner a year or so - or grow your own server. Keep a couple of backups.
And label the bloody things - there's not much point of keeping all those pictures of great-aunt Ethel if no-one knows who she is.
I faced the problem of wanting a way to store my photos, with metadata, in a form I had personal control over and wouldn't just disappear. I decided the best solution is one which stored everything on a local filesystem (but could be put on the web) with metadata in semi-human-readible format (eg some forms of XML) with a web browser front end for display, and wouldn't depend on too much infrastructure to view (eg no web server required). So I wrote a solution. And I put it on sourceforge. And I won't link it because 7 years later I look at that code and I'm just embarrassed. By now there are probably lots of other solutions out there, too.
The point is, if you want to keep that stuff, buy a NAS and manage the data yourself. It's the only way to be sure.
Anyone who stores your personal data should be obliged to allow you to download your own copy. The format should be an international standard, probably XML, but something open.
However, going beyond that, the normal default should be for you to possess YOUR own personal data, and the exception should be permitting someone else (such as Facebook) to use it. Open-ended, unlimited copies for sale to any third party should be downright illegal.
This can be extended beyond Facebook all the way to such personal information as bank records. Why not store the physical copies on your own computers as long as you can satisfy the bank's legitimate concerns for robust storage (or are willing to accept the potential loss)? The bank can include checksums in the data to prevent you from modifying it, and it should be YOUR decision when and with whom you share such data.
I'm waiting for IPV6 to be fully implemented and all our devices have a permanent IP.,
my domain name will be something to do with my real name and location.
My home router will have a small server setup, Linux of course,
I will post in good old fashioned HTML,
I will contact people with email or VOIP,
while on holidays I will save photos to myserver@home,
I will back up to some device on my fire-walled home network.
It's all time tested, solid, old technology that I can own, maintain and trust.
I found a ton of all photos I thought I had deleted, but the PHP photo gallery I'd used has created caches of them all. Was a nice surprise. In combination with a NAS box and Dropbox, I think it would las 20 years. Of course you'll have to maintain it (upgrade the NAS as things move on) but data can be copied.
And using Facebook et al as a launch page to redirect to your own website?
You can host it yourself. Most NAS boxes from Thecus or QNAP allow you to host a webserver/site on the NAS. Keep it on 24x7 with a xDSL line.
Or use a webhosting service that allows you shell access and the ability to create your own website from top to bottom and just copy the entire website when you move hosting providers.
Using pre-canned web templates or a site builder it's no harder creating your own website than writing a document in word or office.
A fairly easy solution would be to just register your own URL and present the material yourself. The associated costs (domain registration, hosting fees) are minimal and there exist plenty of available photo album templates that eliminate all (or at least most of) the programming hurdles.
Make a good use of the "unlimited" storage on shared hosts. Provided you are running a personal blog which has a section for all of your personal pictures, you can use almost all of the inode/file/folder quota for sharing your memories with the world. It's both within the ToS of most reputable hosting providers and within the same level of privacy/security requirements as that of Facebook. Add a nice .htaccess file and your pics are more private than on Facebook, since people would have to download the pic and share it rather than pass a public link around.
It's not rocket-science to pay a bit of money for what you want! With regards to backups, the local copy acts as a master backup for the shared hosting, which is the primary storage space for all your stuff. If you lose your master backup, just FTP all your pics back off the shared host anyway. Oh and since most reputable shared hosts cluster the servers and snapshot the state of data periodically for their clients, the whole "living medium" requirement is already fulfilled. You just have to maintain your own master backups in the name of common sense, since shared hosts are not intended to be highly secure and could lose data any time.
This is exactly what I do with my blog (warofthenerd.net) which is currently hosted by GoDaddy on their Deluxe plan with 150GB of storage.
Has Bong seen this piece? Really groundbreaking stuff here, and in the comments.
I suggest someone start an academic discipline to study these issues. It might be called something like "library science", say.
It'd also be great if there were organizations dedicated to recovering data from old media. Or if groups concerned with the durability of electronic formats issued recommendations for improving it, perhaps under a catchy moniker like "Acid-Free Bits".
But now that the problem's been brought to the attention of the crack team of Reg readers, no doubt Something Will Be Done. Hurrah!
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