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Personal Blogs as Historical Documents

Today's blogs represent modern-day journals, and as such should be preserved.


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Social networking and blogging are all the rage and have been gaining momentum for better than a decade. People blog about pretty much anything. One type of blog that has become increasingly popular are the so-called "Mommy Blogs," written by young mothers detailing their everyday lives and the lives of their children. But Mommy Blogs do not have a corner on personal expression: literally millions of people, young and old alike are using blogs to relate their interests, activities, and passions. And while I personally have more than a little angst over people revealing to the general public so much about themselves, their families, and their activities, I also realize you can't hold back the tide.

What I do see is that many of these blogs seem to represent modern day journals, and should be preserved. In the world of technology, anything can happen -- your blog can be there one day (or one minute) and gone the next. Some bloggers may not think of their blogs as historical documents, but what a tragedy it would be for all of this "in the moment" history to be lost because a blog was accidentally deleted or because the company hosting the blog had a meltdown. It happens. As reported just weeks ago, the blogging service JournalSpace experienced "a catastrophic data loss," in which the entire content of the blogs stored on the company's servers was lost. To read more about this, see "JournalSpace Is No More" and "Hard lessons on the importance of backups."

Bloggers may be lulled into a false sense of security in being assured their blogs are automatically "archived" by their blogging service of choice. And it's true, you and your viewers can go back and view your earliest post to your most recent. But, like JournalSpace, if a company's server crashes, the data can be lost. Most experienced computer users know, often from sore experience, the value of backing up their data. However, if bloggers do not fully appreciate their blogs as historical documents, they might not realize the importance of also backing up their blog content. So first and foremost, appreciate the historical nature of your blogs and the value of preserving them.

How then, to preserve your blog? If your blog is hosted on a traditional web site, downloading the content to back it up is a fairly straightforward process. Downloading or exporting content from a blogging service is not so easy, for various reasons, especially for very extensive blogs. The options for downloading blogs and the issue of controlling your online content will be discussed in a second article. In the meantime, there is something you can do. You can do a simple cut and paste from your blog to a word processor. If you have been blogging for a long time, it can take some time to go back page by page to save your blog. I can only tell you that it's worth it. Once you have saved your blog up to the current date, there are ways to keep it up to date -- again, those options will be discussed in part two of this article.

Most importantly, be aware of the historical value of your blog and back it up to your home computer . . . today.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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