Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Digital scrapbooking

A few weeks ago, I received an email that mentioned digital scrapbooking. We've all seen -- and perhaps created -- scrapbooks that contain photos and other memorabilia. If that scrapbook exists only in digital form, then it is a digital scrapbook. Yes, there are software packages and web sites on this topic, and even a magazine.

When we digitize, we're concerned about the original work and trying to ensure that our digital surrogate matches the original work. We carefully consider whether we should do any altering of the digital object so that it is more usable. Sometimes we do; sometimes we don't.

With digital scrapbooking, there is not the concern about being true to the original. I see people talking about altering the photos -- perhaps highlighting, editing, or adding elements -- in a digital scrapbook. These scrapbooks can become enhanced memories -- better than the original. Yes, altering materials in a paper-based scrapbook was always possible, but you would generally be able to see the alterations. With digital scrapbooks, you may not always know how something was altered. What you see is what you get, but are you seeing and getting what really happened?

With digital scrapbooks growing in popularity, undoubtedly at some point someone will want to donate a digital scrapbook to a library, historical society or archive. Besides thinking about the digital format and issues surrounding that, the institution will need to consider if it is receiving history or art. Is it receiving a scrapbook that documents history (in the ways we look at scrapbooks from bygone eras) or should it only be considered a work of art, since you're not sure if the history displayed has been altered?

I don't know the answer to that question. I do know that figuring out the answer is going to cause a headache for someone.

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1 comment:

Mandy said...

What an interesting post. It is true that digital scrapbookers can alter history if they so choose, but I think paper scrapbookers can too. This can be done by the kind of photos they take or the journaling they write. I think it's more about what stories are chosen to be told and what stories are chosen to be "conveniently" left out.