New Year’s Resolution: Print More Stuff?

A couple of articles have caught my eye this week: If you have lofty ambitions for your legacy, head for the attic and Cyberspace once you’re dead.

Some quotes from the articles:

“Did we ever give a thought to how much of this will endure beyond our lifetimes?” Probably not. What that means is that we are – carelessly or unwittingly – consigning the records of our lives to the digital shredder…. chances are that when historians come to write the history of our times, they will find a yawning gap in the record.

“Increasingly we’re not leaving a record of life by culling and stowing away physical journals or shoeboxes of letters and photographs for heirs or the future. Instead, we are, collectively, busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff… We pile up digital possessions and expressions, and we tend to leave them piled up, like virtual hoarders… what do they add up to when we’re gone? The legacy of a life you hope your survivors will remember? Or a jumble of “digital litter” for them to sort through?”

Keep your Facebook updates forever in a printed diary

PRESS RELEASE January 1, 2011

Ever wished you could keep all your Facebook status updates as a real diary? Now you can. Launched on January 1, 2011, Like This Book is a real book version of your Facebook wall.

Founder Rachel Cunliffe came up with the idea after the birth of her first child two years ago.

“I used to keep a diary but now I write a status update.

“Even if I have fool-proof back-ups of my status updates on my computer or online, that doesn’t leave me a user-friendly way to reminisce over my life or leave something for my kids to flip through one day. Life on the internet is geared for right now and often not for the distant future.”

Rachel knew she wasn’t the only person feeling this way and started working on a semi-automated service which creates a physical diary rich with photos, comments and memories.

And that service is quick and easy to use. All you need to do is use Facebook’s download button, securely send your files and then preview and purchase your book.

Like This Book launched January 1, 2011 at and

Books are priced from $14.95US, tax and shipping additional.

Rachel Cunliffe is a blog and community site designer at

How to export and back up your Facebook content

In October, Facebook finally enabled downloading of your Facebook content. I strongly urge you to make a back up, even if you don’t plan to do anything else with it.  If your Facebook account is hacked or deleted somehow, you can always have a copy of your friends list, old status updates, photos etc.

To make the backup:

  1. In Facebook, click on Account then Account Settings
  2. Click on learn more next to Download your information
  3. Enter your password and click Continue
  4. Complete Facebook’s security check and then click Download now

Note: Sometimes you have to wait for Facebook to send you an email with a link and sometimes you will be able to download the file immediately.

Yearbook design ideas

As I’m working on our 2009 personal yearbook, I’ve been pondering how to display status updates alongside our photos – keeping it as interesting and readable as possible.

Here’s my current draft:  create a new blank page for year month and then just have the numbers signifying the day of the month.  Below each, show all the status updates on that day.  I’m skipping the time information – most of the time this isn’t too important.  If there were times which were particularly important, I could move those in. I’m using a different color for my husband’s updates, and I’ll use a different one again for my son’s.  A few updates I’m leaving off (links to websites usually) and I’m fixing minor typos as well!

While I had no trouble using Blurb for my son’s photo book, it is a little time consuming pulling in all the status updates and formatting them like this manually.  It’d be fantastic if I could set up a style like this, and they all get sucked in magically.


Waiting patiently for my photo book delivery…


At 240 pages, it’s almost a page for every day I’m covering of my son’s first year. I’ve mixed in photos, scanned images, comments from Facebook, Twitter and his baby book. It’s a gift for his two sets of grandparents for Christmas, as well as a copy for us, and one for him when he one day leaves home.


I’ve used Blurb and am a little nervous about the quality as I’m pretty fussy and look closely at photos. Using their free tool Booksmart was an excellent experience – no crashes, no lost work (and I’ve been working on it for a while!) and no really annoying bugs while working with it. If you don’t like one of their many layouts, you can edit theirs or create your own, which came in handy every so often.   Even though I’m used to using Adobe CS4 tools, I didn’t feel like I was using a limited tool just for beginners and wish for more features.

It’s the second book I’ve made with Blurb – the first a wedding album for my brother-in-law and his wife which turned out well.  My next book is our 2009 annual.  When the year is complete, I’ll do a final export of our Facebook and Twitter status updates and combine them with all our photos which I’m still culling down.  I want to tell a story with the photos and content so we can remember the little things in the future.  I’m using iPhoto to organise all our photos with a smart album which pulls in all photos taken from this year.  If I delete photos from the smart album, they’re not deleted overall from iPhoto (handy when we often take photos of things for our website Throng).

I’d love to find other blogs where people talk about their process for making photo books, visual diaries, year books.  Have you spotted any?

My Heart Will – Social Legacy Network

I was intrigued to read about a new “social legacy network” called which enables you to create, share and store digital memories in a “safe, private and secure environment that will live on for generations to come”.

“By using the internet as a storage space for these memories, they can never be lost or damaged.”

No form of archiving is completely safe but I do wonder how permanent anything stored online or even something digital can be? Is it truly more permanent than in printed form? How do I know if this service will be around in 100 years? Will Facebook? Will Twitter? How many floppy disks or computers are out there with data that can’t (easily) be read?

My other main concern with these types of sites (and more are popping up all the time) is that it is yet another regular discipline that we need to add to our already busy lives.

“People have a genuine desire to capture their lives. Other on-line platforms already exist that serve part of this function, but they’re frenzied, they’re fast, extremely public and by nature, pretty superficial. Here is a conscience-driven, thoughtful, evocative web-based tool that takes social marketing to a much deeper level.”

Maybe. You can already set up your Facebook, Twitter, blogs to be completely private if you so wish. There’s plenty of people blogging at a deep level about their lives so I wonder what this new tool offers that, say, opening a free account on doesn’t:

  • MyHeartWill costs $199US for 10 years and 2GB of storage for text, photos, videos and audio
  • WordPress is free and gives you 3GB of storage for text, photos, videos and audio and it can be as private as you want it to be

Those behind the site says that Facebook, Twitter and blogs etc are lacking when it comes to sharing the stories and content that comprise a person’s life, that they’re too hurried. In some sense I agree – most of the updates we do in Twitter or Facebook are very quick but those writing personal blogs or writing long notes on Facebook about events in their lives would likely disagree. The problem is that we don’t write long accounts of the stories and memories that we want to because we just don’t have time, not because we don’t have the tools available to us.

The issue is how to permanently store the things we’re already writing, sharing, talking about – and of course with the option of appending other content with it. Maybe the deeper stories will sometimes need to be added to fill in the gaps, but the day-to-day observations and comments really give you a thorough insight into someone’s life.

While writing this, I think of the blog Kyah’s Journey – one which documented the life of a beautiful little girl’s brave fight with cancer. The in-depth, personal and deeply moving blog is currently being converted into a book.

A truly ground-breaking tool is not another site to store our content but one which meaningfully combines our already-existing digital trails for future generations to enjoy.

How do you extract a memento from the online world?

I came across a series of articles about how people lined up for a souvenir copy of a newspaper when Obama became president. Here’s some interesting quotes from them:

“How do you memorialize an exuberant comments thread on a blog post or a series of ecstatic Facebook status updates when those pages could move or disappear? …how do you make something permanent in a medium built on constant change? For me, the only answer to come to mind is “print out and frame a screen capture.” What about you? How do you extract a memento from the online world? Rob Pegoraro

“You can’t put a computer screen into a scrapbook” Joyce Mutcherson-Ridley

“You can’t show your children your BlackBerry or your computer screen. In 30 years, my children will be able to touch and feel these papers when I tell them all about this historic day.” Merwyn Scott

Lots of people out there are pondering this issue of taking digital memories and preserving them in a physical form.

Archive Facebook wall posts, status updates, photos and more

An alternate way to archive all your old Facebook activity is this new Firefox extension: Archive Facebook. Basically what it does is save you the hassle of going to your profile page, scrolling to the bottom and clicking “Older posts” over and over again until you get right back to when you first joined Facebook (and yes, I have done this in the past!).

From that, you could either just print it or convert this massive webpage into a PDF file and then print that. It’s not the most user-friendly of extensions as you need to leave your browser to do all the archiving and can’t browse the net at the same time as it’s doing the archiving but it is another way of getting a record of your Facebook wall posts, status updates, photos (albeit thumbnails), comments and the like.

I tested this and just archived the last six months of my Facebook page and ended up with a 74 (!) page PDF. A special print stylesheet would make this much more suitable for printing and greatly reduce the number of pages required.

Putting together a physical yearbook: Step 1

A document of my process for putting together a physical yearbook for my family for 2009:

Firstly an audit of some of what we have got to organize:

  • 1272 iphoto photos + 86 cellphone photos
  • 381 Facebook status updates Rachel (we automatically bring in our Tweets but I have deleted some Tweets from my Facebook timeline – not sure if I will add these back in using an export from Twitter and I add quite a few directly into Facebook)
  • 531 Facebook status updates Regan
  • 47 Facebook status updates Eli
  • 4 blog posts on Eli’s (private) baby blog
  • 38 blog posts on cre8d and ?? blog posts on Throng – not sure how many (if any) of these belong in a family yearbook?

Other possible elements:

  • Favourite memories/moments
  • Favourite websites
  • Favourite songs
  • Numerous videos – stills could be taken from these?
  • TripIt itineries
  • Movies watched at the cinema (only 2 given that we have a baby!)
  • TV series we watched
  • Amazon purchases
  • 2 Google calendars
  • 2 Remember the Milk accounts

Is there anything else I should think to include in a physical yearbook form?

Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book

Currently there seems to be surprisingly few books related to the topic of social archiving. The closest I could find was Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book (2008). My copy recently arrived from Amazon and the book has some excellent tips and some beautiful self-publishing examples.

The most useful parts of the book include short solid design advice (e.g. typography, page layouts) and a nice overview of the entire process of publishing a book – even helpfully explaining all the various mundane parts of the copyright sections in a book. Nothing is covered in-depth (there’s merely a double page spread on InDesign) but it’s a good starting point.

However, there is little specifically relating to how to organize and usefully, beautifully present the type of content we’re all amassing online. I think that this is the biggest issue: how does one present hundreds of photos, tweets, Facebook comments, blog posts, favourite things, events and more in a print format that we will be able to treasure and reminisce over in years to come?

If you have any book suggestions on this topic, please let me know!