I’ve been collecting snippets of my life for years. I guess I am a confirmed diarist at heart, although the collection process is random and not nearly as organised as it might be. I’ve had a camera since I was 11 years old – a Box Brownie as I recall – and have been collecting images from the world around me since then. I’ve kept journals and diaries – especially when I travel, and with the advent of portable audio recording tools back in the early 1980s, started grabbing bits of my life this way as well. For a long time my collections were a diaspora – scattered far and wide. Diaries got too hard to organise, and got shoved in big boxes – audio cassette tapes likewise. I won’t even start with the photos and negatives, hundreds – probably thousands of them tucked away in drawers and boxes, fading away. The movies are few and far between; I’ve relied more on still photography to capture the world out there, that is until I got a small, dedicated, very portable, and easy to use video camera earlier this year (a Creative Vado HD).
Where is all this going? Well, until the advent of digitisation, my packratty collection of memorabilia lay scattered. Now I have the opportunity and the means to convert my stuff and share it – publish it around. Some of this takes time: scanning old photos for example can take forever, but the results are well worth it, especially after the magic of Photoshop or iPhoto has been put to use getting rid of scratches and blotches. As for diaries or traveller’s tales – apart from a quick scribble in a tiny notebook to jog the memory when I got back to the keyboard, I stopped keeping a hardbacked diary when I found out about blogs. I now share photos on Flickr or Facebook, videos on Vimeo, or in the case of private materials for my family and friends only on my Mobile.Me gallery. With the advent of aggregation tools like Friend Feed, I can suck in all my tools and apps from around the web and share in the one spot. The easier the better say I. I want to be able to access the stuff as easily as I can create it. Bottom line though: always back up your digitised collections in a different place. Burn to a DVD and put in a safe or keep away from your home, or send your files into a ‘cloud.’
My absolute favourite collector’s tool right now in terms of ease of creation and sharing has to be Audioboo. I recorded this Boo earlier today. It’s about the delight of re-experiencing a moment in your life via the intimacy of another’s voice – in this case, my children’s voices recorded on Christmas Eves and birthdays over the years.
The process of recording, copying, and sharing used to be laborious – I had the collection of cassette tapes digitised by a tech friend 10 years ago. With Audioboo you just click and record on your iPhone, then click and share with the world; it’s the same spontaneous (though you can pause and resume) process that I used all those years ago with our trusty, kid-friendly cassette tape-recorder-player, but how much simpler. The original cassette tapes are tucked away in the safe, but I now have a version which I can share far and wide. It is a precious artefact that my kids and I adore. I recommend your grabbing some audio moments in your life for later; you won’t regret it.