The Online Library Solution for Everyday Users

By Tyrone Pike Tyrone Pike has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on July 14, 2023

In the digital age, we’re surrounded by a wealth of information from a variety of old and new mediums. We capture hundreds — or thousands — of digital photos, videos, and documents into online personal libraries, but have few methods to effectively sort and use what we’ve got. Technology has made us into the custodians of vast online libraries of personal content, but with few ways to manage the growing treasures we hold.

While large companies use elaborate Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems to handle their data, what about the rest of us? How can we get our arms around the management and organization of the vast collections of content we have? The answer lies in the creation of personal online libraries powered by the combination of AI, machine learning, GPS location, metadata, and more.

1. From Ancient Tablets to Digital Archives – Take Stock!

The concept of organizing information is not new. In ancient Mesopotamia, Ashurbanipal created one of history’s most renowned libraries that housed an estimated 100,000 texts. The tablets ranged from financial records to historic events and religious rituals. He employed a team of librarians, each responsible for a specific section, marking the beginning of the library system that has evolved over time.

Fast forward to the present, and we’ve transitioned from physical books to digital files. However, we’ve carried the metaphors of the paper-based systems to structure our digital wares. We created “folders” and “files.” Yet our personal libraries of digital data continue to expand exponentially. As our first step, we need to take stock of our digital assets. Are there duplicates? There are likely some pieces of content we need more often than others, and perhaps some we need seldom, or not at all.

2. Bring Order to Digital Chaos

Managing digital files is increasingly difficult as data accumulates. Who among us doesn’t struggle with duplicate files and countless searches to find the book or movie or photo we need? We need more efficient methods to organize our digital assets.

The solution: new technologies to allow storage and management of our digital assets in a centralized location while streamlining the process of finding and accessing what we need for quick retrieval when we want it. In the best cases, these enable us to categorize our assets, attach metadata, and perform quick searches for specific files.

Additionally, some of these emerging systems offer new advantages such as collaboration, access control, and robust security (Think access by predators using photos of family and children in marketing materials for human trafficking, or to identify targets). In the same way DAM systems are now essential for enterprises, individuals can also reap benefits from the newest metadata and AI technologies the bigger systems employ.

3. Look for Fresh Approaches at the Ground Level

With the staggering amount of data we capture on our devices, organization becomes a daunting task. Without a system, we accumulate countless photos and videos, many of them priceless, but struggle to remember where they are stored. Although some file names may offer a clue, such as “IMG2015,”… within minutes of taking and storing them, many of us can’t remember what we named them.

We need to embrace the concept of personal digital libraries and to look for fresh approaches such as the following:

  • Efficiency: Personal libraries should help us to store and manage our digital assets in a centralized location or through consistent connections to existing storage locations. Rather than search in multiple locations, at least the ones we remember, for what we are looking for, gathering photos and files into a personal library enhances accessibility, allowing us to categorize our assets easily and to attach metadata.
  • Automation: While manually adding metadata to every photo, image, or document is time-consuming, AI and machine learning can help by generating automated tags for our content. Advances in GPS location data and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology have also made significant strides and are becoming more widely available. For example, an AI system can identify the location and content of a sailing photo in Boston or a skiing picture in Utah without intervention. Similarly, OCR can index scanned PDFs and extract relevant information, such as a specific person’s name from a contract, for automatic characterization and sorting. By leveraging these advances, we save time and boost productivity.
  • Organization: Effective personal libraries eliminate the need for meticulous manual organization. AI systems create folders, tag files, and add descriptive metadata automatically, removing the burden of determining file locations on our own. When they work well, we can find our content immediately through simple searches.
  • Collaboration: The best personal library systems can also facilitate collaboration, simplifying the sharing of digital assets among family members, teams, and affiliated groups. With control over file access, we ensure that only authorized individuals can view and edit them.
  •  Security: Effective personal libraries prioritize the security and backup of our digital assets. Without extra steps or thought, we safeguard our data from unauthorized access and prevent data loss by making the backups automatic.

In short, our reliance on technology has turned us all into curators of personal libraries, whether we like it or not, as we struggle to manage the colossal amount of data we keep. However, the advent and adaption of the newest technologies to everyday users is making it easier and more enjoyable to manage our digital assets. Now is the time to explore the newest features of personal library systems, not only to protect our top-down control, but to help us gain new enrichment from the ability to organize, share, and engage with our digital assets and files.

By Tyrone Pike Tyrone Pike has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Tyrone Pike is a contributor to Grit Daily. He is President and CEO at FileShadow.

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