Archiving Gets Personal

Yesterday, our ambitious little book publishing division here at ITI launched a terrific new title that’s all about “personal digital archiving.”

I’d never heard the phrase until my friend and colleague Donald T. Hawkins approached me a couple of years ago with the idea of putting together a book on the topic. (“Is this old wine in new bottles?” I wondered.) Well, Don made a very persuasive case, we signed him to a book contract, and–working indefatigably and enthusiastically to enlist and guide a knowledgeable cast of contributors–he proceeded to produce one of the best books we’ll publish in this or any other year.

PDA Hawkins cover

So, as of this week Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage is the top-featured title at our Book Division homepage and is also available at our ebookstore. We’ve also posted (in pdf) the Table of Contents and an excellent sample chapter by contributor Jeff Ubois of the MacArthur Foundation, entitled, “Personal Digital Archives: What They Are, What They Could Be, and Why They Matter.” (View the ToC to find out who the contributors are.)

I want to be clear: this is not a how-to for every Tom, Dick, or Harry with a mess of old family photos he doesn’t know what to do with. Rather, it’s a broad, thorough, and forward-looking exploration of personal digital archiving for those at or near the top of the food chain. It was written to provide a solid, current grounding in the topic (and, yes, useful how-to coverage and case studies, as well) for people with a serious interest: archivists; librarians; historians; genealogists; artists, authors, creators, and collectors, and–to quote reviewer Cherilyn P. Fiory–“anyone who is responsible, personally or professionally, for preserving their personal and collective stories.”

(I believe the book will also be welcomed by digital entrepreneurs who look at the huge market of Baby Boomers who care about legacy and think, “Now that’s a business opportunity!”)

As Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle writes in the foreword:

“This timely book brings together various approaches to the digitization, collecting, preservation, and presentation of personal archives. Excitement is growing as researchers learn from one other and welcome the type of sharing culture that comes before commercial players enter a field. Pioneering user interfaces are being proposed for existing digital collections, and methods are being developed that would collect our digital legacy from websites and services. As new approaches and products emerge in this young and increasingly critical field, we have much to look forward to. Personal Archiving is a great place to begin the journey.”

If you’d like to review Personal Archiving for some appropriate public forum, let me know: we’re making a significant number of review copies available because we believe that if it gains wide exposure it can rank among our most commercially successful titles of the year.

Personal Archiving is already a success story in my book. Congratulations to Don Hawkins and his contributors!

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About John Bryans

John B. Bryans is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the book publishing divisions of Information Today, Inc. (ITI) and its sister company, Plexus Publishing, Inc. Since 1979 John has worked in book publishing as an editor, book packager, and publisher. He began his career in the world of New York mass-market publishing, specializing in historical fiction and popular nonfiction before moving into technology publishing in the late 1980s. In 1995, at Online Inc., he launched CyberAge Books—a popular line of titles for online searchers, librarians, and business information professionals. In 1998 ITI acquired CyberAge Books and John joined the ITI staff on the edge of the Pine Barrens in rural southern New Jersey. Currently, he acquires and edits books and ebooks in diverse genres including library and information science and technology, cyberculture, education and careers in the information professions, educational technology, knowledge management, networking and customer engagement, indexing, and clinical research, and—regionally for southern New Jersey—mystery and suspense, history, nature and the environment. In 2001 he acquired and published Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson, which inspired an Emmy-winning dramatic series on HBO and became the publisher's first New York Times bestseller.