May 20, 2011

Blog life

This is really more of a question than a post.

Earlier on in the week I heard a couple of reports about The Domesday Project, an attempt in the 1980s to compile a new Domesday Book, to mark the 900th anniversary of the original, providing a time capsule of UK social history for the period, which would be, it was hoped, as useful a document for future historians as the original has been. There has been a hitch with this aim however - the cutting edge technology of the time, on which the information was recorded, is now entirely obsolete and no software currently manufactured has been available to decode the original laser discs. How ironic that the original Domesday Book remains readable whereas the 1980s version is lost.

Or was lost. Researchers at the University Leeds and the University of  Michigan have been attempting to create the software to rescue the lost information.

It got me thinking (gosh, I'd be dangerous if I had a brain!), about all the different ways that social history has been gathered over the centuries, and the way that really humble forms of communication - letters, private diaries, paintings, photos, even graffiti have been crucial in telling present generations how lives were lived long ago, what was important to people, the ways our lives were different, the ways we are, infact, so often pre-occupied with the same issues. Big public documents have been the frameworks of history maybe, but private writings have played such a huge part of our understanding of the past. The Fire of London without Pepys' diary is the most obvious and famous example. But the less famous artifacts - letters to lovers or sons on the Western Front, graffitti on medieval prison walls, unpublished diaries, even shopping lists - I find them all so fascinating and telling.

Which brings me on to blogs. A modern medium of private/public writing - details of millions of people's lives, their work, their play, art, musings, cooking, shopping, gardening, hopes and fears.... the most incredible font of written and photographic information about how we live our lives. For future historians, an incredibly rich seam to mine for an understanding of the past, surely?

But with the pace of technological development as it is, I am sure present IT will become obselete again before long. What will happen to all that information? On a personal level, would we want our children, grandchildren or other future family members to have a record of our lives as they are represented on our blogs? My blog started off as a way to record what was going on in my garden, but in just one year it has incorporated so much more than that, and photos and descriptions of my life, home, the area near where we live, our garden and holidays and special events whilst toe-curlingly embarrassing to my kids now, might have a nostalgic value when they no longer have their childhood home, parents..... This sounds a bit maudlin, but you know, how would you feel if your blog was to disappear tomorrow and could not be retrieved? Have you become fond of the record of your life, maybe your family's life that it has come to represent?

So my central question is, do you back up your blog somehow, and do you download it to a hard copy, fill a file with a paper version of your blog, or have it book bound?? Would you consider doing so, to preserve it, not necessarily because you consider it a literary marvel, but just because, like a photo album, it represents a tangible impression of your fleeting days and what you hold important??

I haven't. I have just only started to consider the fact that I would be sad to lose what I have recorded, because despite the typos and less than fabulous posts, it is a record, however fragmentory, of my life, thoughts and of our family life to some extent. I am thinking perhaps I would like to make a paper copy. Have any of you done that? Has anyone made a book bound copy even?  Or maybe you just live in the moment with your blog, enjoy it for what it is, and have no plans to keep it longterm. I would really love to hear your views..


  1. Hello Belinda:
    You pose some very interesting and topical questions here.

    Because we have only been blogging for such a short time, we have not really considered this issue before now but it is certainly something which, we do not doubt, we shall mull over. Perhaps there are as many answers to your questions as there are reasons as to why, in the first instance, people blog.

    Just recently we have started to compile an inventory of furniture and effects, showing provenance, date acquired, etc. etc. of the things we have which may, or may not, be of interest to those who come after us. We shall in all likelihood make paper copies of this when complete.

    So, perhaps,we shall treat our blog likewise.

  2. I do not even know how to back up my blog and no paper copy either...when you find the answer maybe you could inform those of us who are tech challenged!


  3. This question recurs regularly, although I forget what most people said. If you are The Sight of Morning, your blog is in a prestigious national archive; for the rest of us who would hate to lose our beloved ramblings, heart-outpourings and precious photos, I would hope that Blogger looks after them somehow. I look forward to hearing what other people think!

  4. My son has recently set up a system where we can save everything we produce but I feel it would be nice to have a paper copy of my blog when my garden gets too big for me to cope with and I have to move away eventually. I hope then that grandchildren might then be interested in looking at it.

  5. Everything will be in the cloud. No more backing up to local servers or on to disks - it's 'The cloud' for the next 10 years or so (at least according to Microsoft and my hubby who works in IT security). He has a company specialising in 'The Cloud' and basically, that's where we're all heading. I've asked where all the data will be kept and what would happen to 'our stuff' if someone blew up the storage centres - but apparently that's all taken care of. Apparently, the storage is distributed across various countries - so it's not possible to blow them all up at once! I think I'll just stick with the creative stuff an leave IT to him (though I am quite proud of the fact I designed my own websites - but am also glad he's on hand when I do something wrong!)

  6. Hi Belinda, as always, you've articulated many of the feelings and thoughts I've been having myself.

    A while ago, before I began to appreciate the function of the blog as a record of life and work, I saw an advertisement for a company that published had copies of blogs. At the time I thought, "How silly!", as one of my favorite things about the blog was it's portability and paperless-ness. But now I wish I could remember who it was offering that service! If you find a good one, please share : ).



  7. There is a site blog2book. Once you start looking, you'll find a few. Problem is, it's rather expensive. And once printed, any links are dead. Paper is also not permanent.

    I keep my words and my pictures on my computer. And yes we should back up, but we don't ... I would back up your photos - also as a record of what and when for your business?

    Perhaps the British Library will keep you in their national archive of blogs??

  8. My husband had my Top 100 posts bound for me this Valentine's Day because I had the same fear you mentioned...I guess that's a start! You can see it here:
    I'll probably do one book a least I'll have a hard copy of some of my posts should the blog be lost!

  9. A great question and one I had not even considered. It reminds me, tho, of how I really feel about digital photos. They never get printed, so you don't have a physical album to hold in your hands and look at when you are in the mood. Somehow, clicking thru folders on the computer isn't the same thing. I'm glad there are there (and should be backing them up!) but never look at them.

    Let us know what you learn. Happy weekend.

  10. I've thought about this especially since Google's disappearing posts episode. My blog is now past 850 posts. There are well over 1000 photographs. That would be some book! I would miss all the links and the ability to do an instant search. For now I'm putting my faith in Google.

  11. I would not be upset if I lost my blog but would be terribly sad to lose the comments. I have really been so touched by the kind words left for me on my posts. Now that you have got me thinking about this subject, I shall set my son the challenge of investigating it...
    this may take some time! Abby xx

  12. I have thought of it and saw an ad on blogger and should have saved the ad, to print 20 blogs out in book form(I think it was 20). You probably could do more but the price was so reasonable. I'm sorry I let it go. I would like a paper copy of some of my blogs just for the photos. I haven't written anything earth shattering.

  13. A very good post!
    Since I have never really had the motivation of organizing my photographs in photo albums, the idea of saving my blog in some possible form sounds like a very good idea.
    My daughters have expressed the amount of publicity they want, so I feel, that I could save my blog as it is, as a memory for the later generations ( although there are spelling mistakes ).
    I´ll start to work on this. Thank you for shaking me!

  14. Very interesting post and comments Belinda. It has been on my mind a lot lately. I do not back them up and should. It has been food for thought and I am trying to sort out how. I have started to identify my favourite posts and am categorising them on my blog. I think I will then find a way to print them. They will be the ones that my children will enjoy someday as well.
    Abby raised a good point, it is the comments that I would hate to lose.
    It is what makes blogging worth the effort to me...just as I appreciate yours.

    Thanks for this made me realise that I need to get a plan into action!

    Best wishes...

    Jeanne xx

  15. I had considered that too Belinda, I thought about printing them all then ditched the idea. I agree with botanical brouhaha's idea - print off your top ten each year maybe...?

    I inherited nothing of my childhood, or my parents. But the opposite of that is too much. So I guess we tread a thin line between valuable links with our parents past, and a load of old toot!

  16. Very interesting post Belinda. I am not sure what I think. As a mural artist I have in the past painted over some of my work and done new work. People say, how can you do that, all that effort you put in, painted out, just like that, but I think, so what, everything is fleeting. But then what if someone had painted out the frescoes at Pompeii and we never got to see them, that would be kind of sad. I do think also that I would love to have all my photos in a book, because it just isn't the same looking through them on a computer screen as someone earlier has said. So I am undecided, but it is all very interesting. Enjoy your Sunday, love Linda x

  17. I hadn't thought about this at all, and you raise a really interesting point. I subscribe to my own blog so get an email of every post which I archive on Googlemail so have a back-up copy, but I also like the idea of a hard copy. Occasionally I read through my blog just to remind myself how far I've come (the original purpose of it) but I love the idea of a book with more photos and maybe "hindsight" footnotes. Hmmmm... Jan x

  18. Thanks for your comment on the cushions Belinda. Have you come to any conclusions about saving your blog for posterity, after everyones interesting comments? Have a great week, love Linda x

  19. Thank you all so much for your really interesting responses to the question of creating back up copies of blogs. It is fascinating how people have so many different reasons why they would like to protect their blog for the future, and it seems there are some simple steps that can be taken.Can I just add that I am an IT idiot frankly, please don't take my word as expert or laugh toooo hard at my lack of IT lingo!!

    As a start I have downloaded my whole blog onto my hard drive - simply by clicking on 'export' blog on my dashboard options. It leaves one's original blog intact on blogger, but copies it as a download to your computer. I have also added my own email onto the small list of people's email I send my blog to automatically - so from now they will also be saved on my email.

    If you search 'back up my blog' on google there is a load of info out there which will give you more detail and expertise than I am able to, but as always, exercise caution!

    The comments you have kindly shared are worth reading through for more ideas. There is a US site that will make your blog into a book,, I haven't found a UK company yet, but I'm guessing a print firm could at least print it out in a condensed form, if not in a book??

  20. Descriptive and interesting post. I am absolutely overwhelmed coming across this post.