Archive | Personal Archiving, Feb. 2011 RSS for this section

PDA Conference Endnote Address

The endnote address at the PDA conference was given by Rudy Rucker, Sr., a science fiction author, who spoke about Lifebox Immortality.

Rudy Rucker

We dream of achieving immortality by creating a software copy of ourselves.  We don’t know how the brain stores information, so the closest thing we can do is to find a way of getting a big archive of our thoughts and memories, and put in some tags and links.  It’s hardly practical to do it yourself–you need to find a way to automate the process.

Rucker’s book, The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul incorporates the concept of a “Lifebox”, which is a really good personal digital archive, or a digital hyperlinked copy of a person’s memory, in which you have a lot of data. It is easy to search your Lifebox data with Google Search.   People could create memoir-like structures using the Lifebox.  Or you could create a chatbot where you could type in any question and get an answer.  You will find that people will not usually answer your questions directly; instead, they will say something that relates to what you ask.  So you must ask again and keep the conversation going.  But this is not a standin for yourself.  It is hard to write your life story.

One of the secrets in writing is to write like you talk.  You could use a cell phone-like device and just tell stories about yourself, but the missing thing is the spark.  Intelligence is mainly many evolving neural networks; there is no underlying theory about creating intelligence. The secret of the Lifebox is to save your memories.  You don’t have to do much more than create the data because we are tuned to emulate other people.

E-mail archives are dangerous–there could be things in the archive that you wish you had not sent.  There is no standard way of making your LifeBox.  They are a way of self-expression.

I found the PDA conference fascinating and highly educational.  I never realized that personal digital archiving had so many implications or applications–certainly many more than simply digitizing a box of old family photographs (although that is of course included).  It’s relevant to information professionals, especially those who interact with the public, because awareness of it is growing, and the number of people doing it is growing rapidly.  And it is a whole new type of information with its own issues and applications.  I look forward to the next conference.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Forensics, Privacy, and Security

What is the proper boundary between public and private data?  How far should archivists go when collecting what might be private data?  These questions introduced this session.  The first presentation was a discussion of archival applications of digital forensics tools and techniques by Kam Woods, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His research focuses on developing techniques and tools to assist in long-term archiving and educational support for digital forensics datasets.

Kam Woods

Here are the differences between digital forensics and archiving.


Digital Forensics vs. Archiving

The main thing with archiving is to know what you have been given.  Archivists are increasingly finding themselves dealing with streams of heterogeneous data.  It is important to reduce risk in the acquisition process and maintain the integrity of the data.  Private and sensitive data must be appropriately protected, and the authenticity and chain of custody (patterns of use and activity) of the data become important.

Advanced forensic formats include raw streams of data, cryptographic hashing, and metadata.  Woods is working on a bulk extractor which will process data and produce Dublin Core metadata and digital forensic XML (DFXML).  The open source code and APIs of this and other related programs are available here.

The Personal in the Organizational

What happens to personal data that is embedded in company records when the company fails?  Sam Meister, Digital Archivist and Consultant to the Sherwood Project at the University of Maryland has looked at this question.


Sam Meister

The Sherwood Archive Project, run in cooperation with Sherwood Partners in Mountain View, CA offers a private alternative to public  bankruptcy.  It attempts to save the records of business by investigating the potential to preserve the “abandoned” records of failed companies.  When a company goes into bankrupcy, it assigns its data to Sherwood, which takes over ownership and trys to sell the intellectual property.  Personal information on employees, suppliers, and users is often found in the records of the company, which raises issues on the disposition of the data.  Records of startups tend to be particularly messy and difficult to deal with.

There is often not much regulation of this data, so disposition becomes an ethical issue. Codes of Ethics are available from the Society of American Archivists and the International Council on Archives.  It is necessary to establish a relationship of trust between the original donor (which is not Sherwood) and the archive, and it is difficult to know what is in the records.  If companies did not collect employee records, that would eliminate many concerns, but that would damage links between those records and others in the collection because personal identifiers are often major way records are linked together.

Technological solutions to these problems are available, but we must be sure that all the personal information is removed. One possibility is an initial period of restricted access until the data has been examined.  In all these issues, there is a private to public transition, with a need to establish trust between private collections and repositories.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor


Personal Medical Archives

Personal health data has many unique issues, especially in the privacy area.  Gordon Bell leads a research project at Microsoft Research, My Life Bits, which is aimed at capturing everything in a person’s life.  According to the project website, Bell has collected “a lifetime’s worth of articles, books, cards, CDs, letters, memos, papers, photos, pictures, presentations, home movies, videotaped lectures, and voice recordings and stored them digitally.  He has become virtually paperless and is now beginning to collect phone calls, IM transcripts, television, and radio. ”  The entire collection comprises 200,000 items and 100 gigabytes of storage.  An article in the March 2007 issue of Scientific American describes some of his work.

Gordon Bell

At the PDA Conference, he said that with the digitization, capture, and storage of all personal information, we are now realizing Vannevar Bush’s famous Memex vision, and he suggested that his work would find practical applications in collecting personal medical archives.  He said that the SenseCam (see the earlier presentation by Cathal Gurrin) is a killer application for recording health information.  One of the most important issues is privacy, and doing nothing about it is fine according to Bell.  He also thinks that no single vendor will ever be able to solve all of the needs in health archiving.  Bell has scanned his entire health history (even back to a letter recording a 1942 visit to the Mayo Clinic!).  The archive has 400 files and 1 gB of images.  He regrets that he ever threw anything away!

Bringing personal health archiving to the masses

Khaled Hassounah

MedHelp claims to be the largest online health community, with 12 million unique visitors a month and is growing at a rate of 40,000 new users a month.    It has over 300 forums, partnerships with leading medical institutions, and over 200 experts who respond to users’ questions.  Khaled Hassounah, MedHelp’s CTO, explained the difference between electronic medical records (EMRs) and personal health records (PHRs).  An EMR is a digital record of your interactions with a healthcare provider.  It is stored by the provider, and access to it is regulated by law.  In contrast, a PHR is created and maintained by the patient, who controls access to it.

MedHelp provides tools for tracking and sharing one’s health data.  About 500,000 people have been using the system to track themselves over the past 2 years.  When MedHelp was first developed as a purely archival system, usage was low because people are interested in managing their health, not an archive, which was seen as a by-product.  Sharing was not an issue; privacy was seen as selective–an option, not a restriction, and not as important as financial data.  Once capabilities to track actual medical data were added and, importantly, play it back, usage increased dramatically.  85% of the trackers that have been created are public; on the average, each user has 2.3 trackers.  Mobile tracker usage is exploding.

Many different variables can now be tracked on the system; for example here is one person’s water consumption tracked over the past 2 months.

Here are some of the lessons learned as a result of this experience.

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

Linda Branagan

Linda Branagan, Director, Telemedicing Products, Medweb, expanded on the discussion of EMRs and PHRs.  She noted that there are 3 types of PHRs:

  • Type 1 PHRs are patient owned and maintained.  They are a digital record of all one’s interactions with a healthcare provider and may be provided to the patient by the provider or a third party.  They are not covered by HIPAA privacy laws.  Both Google and Microsoft have developed products for maintaining these types of PHRs.
  • Type 2 PHRs are “tethered” to an EMR system.  They provide data on appointments, lab results (especially if they are normal), prescriptions, etc. and are generally stored and maintained by healthcare providers.
  • Type 3 PHRs are a self-created data store like MedHelp.

PHRs have not been universally embraced by healthcare providers because providers do not trust them and also because of a fear of liability issues (the data could be used by lawyers in litigation, for example).  On a positive note, however, some providers are making use of PHRs because they can prevent duplicate tests, and they are useful in coordinating care in complex cases.

The amount of personal health information in digital form continues to increase.  The decision whether to make it public is a personal one.  Things to consider are the risk of disclosure vs. help from family and friends and the usefulness it would provide to healthcare providers.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Digital Forensication, The Archival Paradigm, and Archival Sense Making

Digital forensication refers to using digital methods, concepts, and tools in contexts other than criminal investigations.  According to Cal Lee from the University of North Carolina (UNC),  efforts have recently been made to connect the forensics and archiving areas.

Institutions are receiving media and want to collect the online traces of individuals.  In response, UNC has created a learning laboratory for studying the application of digital forensics to the acquisition of digital materials, including training, hardware, and software for running exercises.   It also includes creating, annotation, and disseminating data that can be used for instruction.  The Digital Corpora website has a variety of case studies and training aids, such as typical scenarios and problems to be solved.

Here is Lee’s vision for the future of digital forensication.


Personal digital archiving, the diminishing information age, and the archival paradigm

Richard Cox

Richard Cox, Professor of Archival Studies at the University of Pittsburgh (his home page is here) raised challenges for archivists in today’s information environment.  He said that it is easy to become so immersed in technology that we ignore what we know about life.  We are not listening to each other and exchanging information.  Archivists are a rarified group.  How do others see us?

One of today’s realities is that people are losing confidence in their ability to access information.  For example, information is diminishing as e-books proliferate: there is no sensation of page turnings, you cannot comment, etc.  We are losing artifactual information and physical evidence of memories.  The demise of publishers and university presses is not being replaced by new forms of e-scholarship.  The world of information is a free-for-all, so we need librarians more than ever.  Bookstores are taking the place of libraries, but there are no librarians in them!  Students don’t know how to read and think because slow reading is disappearing.  Independent bookstores have been driven out by big chains, which are now in trouble.  You can look at books in stores, but you can’t do it online.  These closings have negative impacts in communities.

Printed newspapers and journals are also disappearing and have been replaced by online versions and blogs.  Blogs are not built on reliable information, so this is another area of declining information.  Places that educate people have changed from library schools to information schools, which don’t have the focus on reading courses, etc.

Archivists worry about collecting things.  We must begin to be enablers, not acquirers.  People are becoming worried about what might happen to their data.  Individuals’ projects don’t solve problems or know what came before.  We must think more deeply and broadly.  What we know of the world comes through words.  What are we writing?


Archival Sense-Making

Mark Matienzo

Amelia Abreu











Mark Matienzo, Digital Archivist in Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, and Amelia Abreu, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington Information School said that in order to make sense of our archives, they must include artifacts as well as documents.  All archival acts are explicitly historical, and all information in them is view as subjective.   In personal digital archives, profiles consist of collections such as scrapbooks, etc.  The context of collecting is significant.  Sense-making shows promise in personal digital archives and can be applied to many archival activities.  It will make archives become more than archives of facts and instead make them “archives of feelings”.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Perspectives of Computer Industry Pioneers

One of the highlights of the PDA conference was a session in which 3 computer industry pioneers not only provided a look back in time but also gave their perspectives on some of the issues of today.  The pioneers were Ted Nelson, founder of Project Xanadu (the first computer hypertext project); Ed Feigenbaum,  often called the “father of expert systems”; and Christina Engelbart, appearing on behalf of her father, Doug Engelbart, inventor of the mouse.

Ted Nelson

Ted Nelson calls himself “the industry’s loyal opposition” and has strong opinions about today’s digital world.  He said that we are being assaulted by fads and inane technologies and that intelligent software means that it takes control away from the users.  Our worst problem now is the myth of technology.  Most things that people call technology are packages, conventions, and constructs.  E-mail is not a technology; the technologies making e-mail possible are TCP/IP and file transfer.  Windows, Macs, are just packaging; underneath they are all the same.

What convention should we have for documents?  In the Middle Ages, documents had writing in the margins.  Why is that in PDF and HTML documents, you cannot put notes in the margin? Because the developers thought that users would not need that capability, so they did not design for it.  Nelson is now developing a digital document browser that generalizes side-by-side views so you can see the connections between them.

The computer world is built on hierarchies and rectangular objects.  Where are the connects between them?  The initial file consisted of punched cards in a box with a name on the end. Then came a file containing the name of all files, which led to hierarchical directories.  Nobody foresaw that we would want to store photos, audio files, documents, etc.  The only thing we can count on being permanent is filenames.  Project Xanadu was an attempt to improve on paper and show the thoughts of the writers.  The structure of documents was lost when fonts were displayed on the screen.  All this was an imitation of paper and did not improve on it.

Edward Feigenbaum

Ed Feigenbaum is a pioneer in the development of artificial intelligence and has been called the “father of expert systems”.  He now Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and has continued working on knowledge systems.  His latest work is on the Stanford Self-Archiving Legacy Toolkit (SALT) project, now being developed at the Stanford University Libraries and Academic Institution Resources (SULAIR).  In this case, Feigenbaum defines “self” as “emeritus professors with archives worth preserving for scholarly use and doing the preservation with only a little help from professional librarians.  “Toolkit” means the software and web page formats to facilitate the process.  SALT has taken a “Janus” approach with two faces:  one facing outward toward the scholars, researchers, and scholars of today and in coming years, and the other facing inward towards the repository to facilitate the work of the scholars building it.  The inward face uses Zotero as a tool for entering the metadata.  The two faces communicate regularly to update the repository and synchronize it with the Zotero cloud servers.

SALTworks is the name of the experimental system supporting searching of the Feigenbaum Digital Archive which contains 15,000 documents.  It is also being used by other scholars on their own archives.  A major lesson for library archivists is to get to scholars while they are alive and can supply content, stories, and metadata for their archives.  It is much harder to compile archives after they are dead, and the archives will not be as rewarding for the scholars and students of the future.

Christina Engelbart

Christina Engelbart appeared on behalf of her father, Douglas Engelbart, with whom she still works.  Doug Engelbart’s strategic vision catapulted us into the information age.  The day after he became engaged, he started thinking about his life’s goals.  He wrote a report on human intellect, and then invented the mouse in 1964.  He made one of the first transmissions over the Internet in 1969 and was one of the first proponents of “boosting our collective IQ”.  He founded the Doug Engelbart Institute in 1988 to preserve the history of his work.


Engelbart began archiving his materials early in his career, and re-archived everything on the web in 1995.  The Stanford Mouse Site tells the history of his invention of the mouse and contains many original materials.  The Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley has a replica of the original mouse and other materials.  Many of Engelbart’s materials, including his early videos, are in the Internet Archive.

In developing a scholar’s archive, context is everything.  What is their story, and what were they thinking?  Archives can humanize history; people use things today that can be traced back to an idea (for another example, see the Harold Edgerton Digital Collection).  Technology supports how we work together, and everyone is part of the collective intelligence of the world.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

User Behavior and Archival Practices

Three speakers discussed how people archive their files.  Devin Baker, Digital Librarian, University of Idaho, and Collier Nogues, University of California, Irvine, studied how writers manage their data.  Writers serve as focusing agents because so much of their work exists only digitally and is very valuable to them.  Many of them simply save each succeeding version of a file over the previous one, which raises the question, “Is CTRL-S poor archiving practice?”  The study by Baker and Nogues revealed that about half of the respondents primarily save over their files periodically, but only 21% do it all the time.  They have little sense of “file management” and save files in a wide variety of media–thumb drives, laptops, desktop PCs, and in e-mail.  Writers are good at backing up files, but the plethora of backups leads to problems with file management; 31% of writers said that they do not keep track of different versions of files saved in more than one location.  Not only that, but unconventional naming conventions are prevalent.  About half of the authors said they use e-mail as an archiving method; a major issue therefore is how will we archive writers’ correspondence?  Can we recover some of what has been lost already?

Hong Zhang

Hong Zhang, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois has also been studying file naming and archiving practices.  File folders are workspaces; old files implicitly become archives.  Problems arise when people forget where they put files and cannot find them again.  Often, one can determine the type of archive based on how the user has named the file.  For example, a file called “xxx-old” is generally for something that has been completed or is not expected to be referred to again in the near future.  Incorporating the date into a file name may indicate an implicit archive; for example, “2007 expense forms”.  This naming convention works for a while, but if the files are moved or the user reorganizes the computer, the system may break down.

Jason Zallinger, a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has been studying Gmail as an archiving method.  With large amounts of storage available to users, Gmail has become a “storyworld”.  Zallinger interviewed 6 users between ages 27-39 about their Gmail accounts.  He concluded that we are now all digital storytellers, historians, and autobiographers of our own lives and have become good at capturing digital data; however, we are not good at making sense of it all.  Thousands of clues to our life stories are sitting in our archives; how do we design systems for the desire to save information but not look at it?

Zallinger suggested that a “Forget” button would set a reminder on old e-mails and give the user a gentle reminder in several years to clean out what is not useful.  He also mentioned other interesting e-mail tools to help users.  Mail Goggles gives users some simple math questions to solve before the mail is sent, which may prevent e-mail users from sending messages they regret later.  Zallinger has also created a blog to document his experiences in creating an open source system to turn Gmail archives into a simple game and make them into a story.  He also has created a Wordle from his e-mails.

Visuals are powerful memory clues, and Cathal Gurrin and Aiden Doherty at Dublin City University have taken the collection of life stories to a whole new level by using wearable cameras (called SenseCams) that take about 3 pictures a minute without user interaction and capture everything they did in a day.  The cameras have sensors that trigger the captures, and have been augmented with GPS and Bluetooth devices to identify activities, personal interactions, e-mails, etc.  They do not record audio because they found that even though people do not seem to mind cameras, they will stop talking if they are being recorded.  Gurrin now has an archive covering 4.5 years that contains over 7 million photos.

Cathal Gurrin wearing his camera and holding a GPS device

A major need is to build a search engine to search this vast archive.  How can it all be organized?  One way is to designate important events and then search for them.  Another is to search automatically identified activities.  Gurrin’s research group was able to search for one event in the 30,000 stored over the past 2.5 years and retrieve it in about 2 minutes.  They have published about 40 articles about their research on visual lifelogging and their experience with the SenseCam; click here to access them.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor



Image Capture and Collection

What is everyone doing with all those cheap cameras out there?  Daniel Reetz noted that digital cameras have become cheaper than textbooks!  Very cheap cameras can change the world (not always in ways we desire!)  Cameras have always defined the aesthetic of our memories.  The aging of photos has aged our memory of past times.  The problem with cheap cameras is that they take poor pictures because of the need to keep production costs low.  They contain internal software to correct the results of the optics, so photos are processed to appear sharper than they really are.  Those pictures will one day comprise the archives of our times.  The potential for personal archiving is unbounded if imaging efforts are focused on more useful activities than simple photo retouching or changing the colors of lawns and skies to make them more appealing to consumers.   Reetz has used camera technology to build a low-cost do-it-yourself book scanner that uses cheap cameras and free software to scan books quickly and efficiently.  (See an article in Wired magazine for details and photos.)

Dwight Swanson

Dwight Swanson described some of the activities of the Center for Home Movies (CHM).  The Center’s mission is to “collect, preserve, provide access to, and promote understanding of home movies and amateur motion pictures.”  Regional film archives have put time and effort into making home movies available, but none of the existing ways of archiving are adequate for long-term access, so there are relatively few home movies online.  Part of the reason for this is because there are very few film transfer companies serving the general public, and thus our understanding of them is limited.

CHM is working to increase the availability of home movies and has organized a Home Movie Digitization and Access Summit.  The first Summit was in September 2010 at the Library of Congress’s campus in Culpeper, VA.  It drew 46 attendees–film makers, film transfer companies, and stock footage vendors and considered the following questions:

  1. A taxonomy for home movies.  The Library of Congress asked the Center to develop such a taxonomy.
  2. Cataloging and description issues.  How do home movies differ from other collections?
  3. Legal issues.  Terms of use, privacy, rights issues of orphan films.
  4. Technical issues.  Comparison of film digitization systems, recommended standards.
  5. Uses and users.  Why do home movies matter?  What is the current state of scholarship?  Who is using home movies and what are they looking for?
  6. What is the role of the Film Collectors’ Community and how can they be engaged?


Rich Gibson

Rich Gibson spoke about the Gigapan Project, which produces highly detailed panoramic images.  A “gigapan” is a way to capture such multiple images, software to stitch them together, and a website for viewing them.   The website gives users free accounts to share their and is a community for sharing GigaPixel imagery.  An uploader, currently under development and expected to become available in August, will provide users with an easy way to upload their images, and a “GigaPan Stitcher” will also be available to allow them to create the panoramas from individual images.

GigaPan images will change the way we see the world.  Our world is a set where we live our lives and is a museum for the artifacts we collect.  We archive because things change.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Understanding Personal Digital Archives: Cliff Lynch’s Keynote Address

Clifford Lynch

Clifford Lynch, Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, keynoted the second day of the PDA conference.  He said that we are moving into a second generation of understanding personal digital archives, where the complex of ownership and control is not clearly understood.  We find that the shared version of a collection has more value than a personal version because of the context and commentary associated with it.  Shared spaces are vulnerable platforms–we will see more sudden shutdowns of platforms that aren’t financially viable.

Personal material is at most risk when someone moves from one job to another. Things get lost in the transition.  Platform migrations of all kinds are periods of considerable peril for the continuity of this kind of material, which is something we need to think very carefully about.  The average length of a user’s relationship with a social platform may be determined by the emergence of new platforms.  We do not understand the relationship with shared spaces for personal archiving very well.  We need “Archive Me” buttons on many more things!

We have a notion of a “public life”: a minimum record of someone’s life that is public, such as birth/death dates, public offices, or children’s names.  We have built up many systems to record those things, which are becoming much more open and extensive.  Look at the number of biographic entries in Wikipedia, for example.  In the higher education world where tracking publications is important, unique author IDs are being developed.  There is a move to make some activities more transparent and public.  We need to think about how these spaces interconnect to the general infrastructure of society that is bound up in identity, genealogy, publication, and information dissemination.  There is a strong linkage that will need considerable study.  What’s the public part of a life?  Do we have social or legal consensus on that?  How does that connect with shared social spaces?

If we simply extrapolate from the challenge of personal papers and try and shoehorn the development of shared social spaces into a framework, we will miss a tremendous number of the key issues.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Various Personal Archiving Products

Thursday evening of the PDA conference featured “fast talks”–brief presentations delivered in a minimum of time.  Some very useful personal archiving products and services were described.  Here is a brief summary of 3 of them:

  • AboutOne:  Joanne Lang, a former executive founded AboutOne to help busy people control all aspects of their records.  According to the product website, she “wanted to capitalize on her experience with cloud technology to help busy moms manage family life. She had seen how cloud computing and business software allowed businesses to eliminate mundane tasks and gain new levels of efficiency, and she wanted to bring those same benefits to families.”  AboutOne is a secure and private subscription service ($5/month, $30/year) that links all types of data and allows it to be easily entered as it happens, from anywhere. :spacer:
  • Personal Archiving Day: The Library of Congress will host its 2nd Personal Archiving Day–an open house for the public on saving your digital information–on April 22.  It also maintains an extensive website on personal archiving, which has sections on digital photos, audio, or video; e-mail messages; personal documents; and websites.  The most popular topic by far is digital photos.:spacer:
  • The Rosetta Project: Laura Welcher, Director of the Rosetta Project, described some of its activities.  Supported by the Long Now Foundation, the Rosetta Project is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to build a publicly accessible digital library of human languages.  One of the project’s major missions is to draw attention to the drastic loss of many of the world’s languages; a static wiki of data about each language was built from data in Wikipedia.  Recently the project moved its content into the Internet Archive.  :spacer:

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor

Data Liberation

Brian Fitzpatrick

Data liberation refers to getting your data back out of places you have stored it in the cloud.  In the first day’s endnote address, Brian Fitzpatrick, Engineering Manager, Google, Chicago and founder of the Data Liberation Front, said that Google feels that a user should be able to control the data they store in any of Google’s products, and his team’s mission is to make it easier to move data in and out of their services.  Here is his team’s logo:

Data Liberation Logo


Why should a company help users remove their data?  It’s not for altruistic reasons; they benefit from it because it increases user trust.  Companies should develop tools making it easier for a user to leave.  Locking data in is not a valid business model.  Never in history has a distribution method like the Internet existed; it is almost free and breaks all the rules.  Google’s aim is to make products so good that users do not want to leave.  The new lock-in is innovation; focusing on building walls and locking doors to the data makes you vulnerable to innovators who will figure out ways to allow users to remove their data.

Most users don’t think about data liberation until they want to leave, but they should ask these questions before they put their data into any system:

  • Can I get my data out at all?
  • How much will it cost to get my data out?
  • How much of my time will it take to get my data out?

Some people aren’t comfortable about putting their data in the cloud, but the reality is that it’s safer there than on your laptop.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor