Happy NERD!

Today has been designated a national Electronic Records Day (NERD) by the Council of State Archivists to raise awareness about digital records resources. In addition to supporting the creation and management of government digital records systems, CoSA offers a tip sheet of survival strategies for personal digital records.

The best of these tips is the reminder to periodically migrate files to newer media. This both allows you to continue reading the files and prevents file loss through media deterioration. I still have a file box of 5.25” floppies with all my undergraduate papers on them, and at least one file box of 3.5” floppies full of graduate school papers, poetry, journal entries, and essays. All are in formats that I’m sure are now unreadable, even if the floppies haven’t suffered any age-related degradation.

Isn’t it funny how we imagined that the digital revolution would allow us to store our personal data in perpetua, with little effort and even less space? It turns out that old-fashioned paper remains the most low-maintenance storage medium, despite the vulnerability of pulp and ink to all kinds of environmental conditions.

So celebrate NERD by checking out your own state’s electronic records resources. Then download the survival strategy sheet, pick one tip that will help you manage and protect your personal records, and DO IT.

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4 responses to “Happy NERD!

  1. I needed to be told this, despite being a technology educator…and one who harps to my students about backing things up. While I do have multiple copies of everything AND I’m a packrat, they are not organized well, and I have to spend moments of my life I’ll never get back finding stuff again. But I do use cloud storage, a really really convenient option for storing your personal data from multiple devices. AND companies who do this are redundant (many machines and many backups) as well as geographically diverse… if there’s an earthquake in California, there are systems in other locations to immediately take over functionality. Pretty cool!

  2. At IU in the early 80’s, I took a computer programming class in which we used punch cards, yes, punch cards! Thankful for the advances that have been made since then!!! Now there I things that I just don’t comprehend, like the Cloud Drive (aka a computer lock box in the sky!)

    • Oh my yes — punch cards! I was at my 25th college reunion last weekend, and some of us were reminiscing about punch cards, and the old VAX mainframe, and the dedicated word processors, AND the typewriters we used before the latter came along. The undergrads looked at us like we were describing our lives as Vikings before rowing the longship across the Atlantic to reach the New World.

      And I really like the image of the computer lock box in the sky — sounds more like something from the Wizard of Oz than a modern convenience.

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