This post was published in 2017
This post isn’t being actively updated and may be out of date.

For a few years now I’ve been wanting to organise a family photo and video archive. Digital content is much easier to deal with, but my family members still have boxes of old photos sitting around in their cupboards. In our case, this is basically everything prior to the year 2000.

Capturing the content

A stack of photos.

These physical photos degrade over time and are vulnerable to being destroyed in a disaster. This is an easy problem to solve by scanning the photos so we have a digital copy.

But the photos alone are worthless. It’s the associated memories that make them valuable. In an archive then, it’s essential that the who, what, where and when of each memory is identified. This is difficult, and even more time consuming than the digitisation process, but I think it’s worth it! Whats the point in having a picture if you don’t know what its about?

Making the content accessable

A diagram that represents sharing.

Capturing the content is time consuming but relatively simple. But why bother doing this if no one can enjoy it? Making the archive accessable to the whole family is arguably the most important part, and it’s currently proving to be the most challenging.

This solution must:

  1. Make sharing and accessing content with the entire family easy, ideally with a web link.
  2. Be able to show photos alongside their descriptions and other metadata.
  3. Allow content to be structured in a way that makes sense for families, like filtering by a branch of the family or a type of event.
  4. Be able to contain videos, some of which may be long (potentially several hours worth of home videos!)
  5. Ensure I retain control of the data to so it will be in a usable form years into the future.
  6. Be secure so only my family members have access.

Flickr came close to this with their “family” and “friends” sharable URL’s, but this meant loosing full control of the data and made finding content difficult.

Let me know if you have any suggestions of solutions, but at this stage I’m looking at building a system of my own that can fufil these requirements.

In the 21st century we have an amazing opportunity to preserve these memories effectively. It will be amazing when future generations can so easilly look back at the past. Time is of the essence so get out there and ensure these memories are captured properley!

I wrote a poem as inspiration, enjoy!

My colour fades as I’m forgotten.
They used to visit me, smiling as we reminisced.
But its been many moons since I’ve been missed.

I anxiously wait for my eventual doom.
Sitting here, in this small dark room.
Have I slipped their mind?
Will they leave me behind?

The bright light hits.

My time has finally come.
But don’t be sad, this is the best possible outcome.
Released from my fragile form, I flutter to the clouds.

This is my next chapter.
A digital life is the answer.
In my binary form, I will live forever on.