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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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Collection Management Made Easy and Meaningful  

Artifcts thanks Sarah Reeder, Artifactual History Appraisal, for her contributions to the following article.

Reading time: 4 minutes

You may have one or many collections, intentional collections and accidental collections. Part of the fun of collecting is keeping track of it: Knowing what you have and what you’re still hunting for, what is sentimental vs. valuable, and what is okay to sell some day versus you’d prefer to pass down to someone special.

Short checklist about collections

 
 
We know a thing or to about accidental collections. Try out our free checklist available here.

If you were a professional archivist, librarian, or appraiser, you’d have a ready tool in your pocket to help manage your collections. It’s called a finding aid. But guess what? As you Artifct your collections, you are implicitly leveraging the best of finding aids, but in a friendly form that all can enjoy and benefit from. 

Here’s your peek inside the world of archivists where we show you how finding aids and collection management are made easy and meaningful with Artifcts!

What Is a Finding Aid, and Why Should You Care?

Unless you are a collections professional (archivist, librarian, appraiser…), the concept of a finding aid is likely foreign to you. For the longest time at Artifcts we even mistakenly referred to them as finding keys. Oops!

A finding aid is exactly what it sounds like: A tool that helps you locate items within a large collection in a fast and efficient way. A finding aid is a guide that describes the contents of an archival collection. A well-designed finding aid makes quick work of determining the topical relevance of any collection. After all, what good is a collection if discoverability hinders locating and using elements within the collection in the future.

Many of us have experienced the feelings of dread and being overwhelmed upon contemplating many boxes of inherited items that probably have something important contained in them but what and where? Imagine if you had a finding aid that told you exactly what was important and where you could locate it!

This is the magic of what finding aids do.

To a large degree, information within a finding aid is standardized per guidelines from the Society of American Archivists, “Describing Archives: A Content Standard,” better known simply as DACS. Standardization means a professional could work with or for any gallery, library, archive, or museum (aka GLAM) and their collections without much difficulty. They might simply display the information differently than one’s accustomed to.

A finding aid would have information such as: reference code, title, date, extent, name of creator, description, dates, and location. Does that list look familiar? If you Artifct, it should… 

For those of us who didn’t go to Library Science school, in our daily lives we probably do not want to think about taxonomies, metadata, bytes of storage, or even finding aids. We want to enjoy and share the meaning behind the items we’ve collected and ensure the stories and value behind them live on!

Enter Artifcts: Solving Age Old Problems of Finding Aids for Every-Day Collectors 

What we created at Artifcts is the solution to several age-old problems of finding aids in an individual and family-friendly fashion. And this means great things for you all!  While finding aids are brilliant tools for professionals, they are disconnected from how most of us describe and catalog the ‘why’ of our collections. We need more multitasking support in our lives.

Here’s how you can use Artifcts to preserve the history and the value of your collections beyond the constraints of traditional finding aids.

Use those QR codes.

If you were to work with a professional appraiser, archivist, or collections manager of any type, they will likely offer as part of their services a description of the collection and list organizing the inventory within your collection, a finding aid of some sort. But how do you link that list to your physical collection? At Artifcts, you can print a QR code or use Artifcts QR code stickers to link the physical and the digital.

music box with Artifcts QR code on the bottom of the base

 
 
An Artifcts QR code unlocks the story and value!

Record your stories.

Move beyond “scope notes” and “meta data” inherent to the archivist’s expertise – “This is a 19th-century {name of item}” – and breathe life, context, and personal meaning into the objects in your collection, e.g. “This is what Great Great Grandma brought from France when she moved to New York. And I’m giving it to you now.”  

Artifcts offers the options to share your story, indicate what you want to do with items in the future, and supply critical other information like where on earth you’ve stored the item in your home or elsewhere and the supporting documents (receipts, appraisals, and more). 

Connect the dots.

We typically describe each Artifct you create as connecting the dots, because only you know how photos of those specific items relate to shape a story or history. But we help you go a step further, too. You can use our @ feature to cross reference one Artifct with another, tying together pieces of a collection and pieces of a story that others may not otherwise realize relate.  

Description field on Artifcts with menu open showing options for linking with @

 
 
Simply type @ as you add the story or description to your Artifct to link to other Artifcts.

Leverage your community.

Let’s not forget the value in sharing and collaboration to learn more about items in your collections. Through Artifcts Circles and the option to give ‘Edit’ permission to other paid Artifcts members, you can crowdsource information from your loved ones and experts alike to capture important details about your collections that may add historical and family history information as well as increase the value, too. 

Preserve what is.

Add the photos, videos, and original documents you have to your Artifcts. There’s a spot dedicated to securely preserve each as is. No compression. No conversion. What you upload is what you can always download again, too.

 
 
 
 
In our spring 2024 series finale of Evenings with Artifcts, our expert guests shed light on they 'why' and 'what' of collections.

Ensure that if you work with an appraiser or other collections manager in the future, they provide documentary support through Artifcts, so that you can protect and share the value of your collections with friends and family as well as knock off those “to dos” to with your insurance company, financial planner, and estate attorney. 

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You may also be interested in these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

What to Consider When You Plan to Donate Art and Other Collectibles

From Rare Art to Family Heirlooms: Tips From a Master as You Consider Selling Your 'Stuff'

Everything You Wanted to Know About Appraisals but Were Afraid to Ask

How to Artifct that Collection

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Artifcts® Platform Now Supports Publishing to Custom-Designed Books with Partner Akin

Whether you think about photo books as unique and personalized gifts or dream of publishing a life memoir, we love our books! Today Artifcts announced a new partnership with Akin (https://akin.house/artifcts-books/) to offer simple, custom designed books to Arti Community members who wish to publish their Artifcts to books. 

You need only look at the explosive growth of photo book companies to support everything from build-your-own to instant print from Instagram or your phone to know how much we love to have and to hold books. 

Together, Artifcts and Akin have made it simple and affordable to publish a custom-designed, premium quality, personalized book of your Artifcts.  

“Not everyone enjoys spending hours combing through photos, uploading them into software, stressing over layouts, colors, and font choices,” commented Artifcts Co-founder Ellen Goodwin. “Our partnership with Akin means you can simply choose the Artifcts you want to publish, share them privately with Akin, and they’ll lay out the book in the template of your choice and ship it off to you! The whole process for our members takes minutes!” 

Artifcts excels in innovation that places the needs of its Arti Community members first. People expect to share their stories with meaningful context that includes photos, audio, and video. Artifcts has ensured this promise translates to printed books, too. Unlike a standard photo book, for every Artifct you publish, you can include a QR code that allows the viewer to scan and access additional photos and video tied to the story. Your book can come alive. 

“We don’t want our members to worry about the book creation process. We want people to enjoy spending time reliving their stories, and recording what they value most,” said Artifcts Co-founder Heather Nickerson. 

For more information, visit Concierge & Other Professional Services or review the FAQs available at Artifcts.com/FAQs. 

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Author Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And during the Fall 2022 series of Evenings with Artifcts Jeff Greenwald shared with us simple but powerful tips, and a healthy dose of perspective, to help us craft our own stories behind the objects of our lives.  

Watch the full Evenings with Artifcts event here.

  • It is hard to write about an object with no personal meaning but even harder when it has tremendous personal meaning. Bear that in mind and go easy on yourself. 

  • Start with something true. This is the trick to writing anything nonfiction. For example, start with a little line about where you got the object: “I bought this in a street market in Istanbul.” And from there go on to describe the scene a little bit and what happened there that connects you with the object.  

Start with something true.

  • Other starters for your Artifcts:  

        • Where were you when you acquired the object? 
        • Was it a gift? Who gave it to you? Tell a bit about them. What was your relationship with them that they felt they should give you a gift like that? “The moon Rocket was a gift for my friend Dave Mccutcheon, and he and I have been friends for many years and share a love of robots and spaceships and dinosaurs... all those things we loved when we were kids.” 
        • Why is it important to you?
        • What feelings does it evoke in you?
  • If a story comes to mind, you can just start jotting it down anywhere. Let your thoughts go where they will. It can be a collection of random thoughts that you can look at later and put together into some sort of a story structure. 

  • We all have stories. Writers block comes from our internal critic. It challenges you with, “Why would anybody want to read it? What could you have to say? What makes you think you're so great that anyone should listen to anything you're telling them?” You have to tell yourself, “I have a right to do this because I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told whether or not you, my internal critic, thinks that it does.” Push the internal critic aside. 
I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told.
  • If you value the stories and need motivation to begin capturing and preserving those stories with Artifcts, make a deal with yourself like Jeff did. Jeff made a pact to give away the objects once their stories were told. Maybe you’ll choose to Artifct twice per week. Or perhaps you’ll start with those items that are most meaningful to you.  

  • A bit of advice Jeff shared from esteemed author Kurt Vonnegut: Write your stories as though you are writing them for one person, as if you are telling this person each of the stories. It gives all the stories a similar tone, a singular voice. 

  • Always include when and where the object was acquired. These are important details.

  • Struggling with a title? Write out 10 of them. It will help you to start to shape your story, too.

Our stuff, the objects that we collect, that inspire us, they are really not what's important. We do not need to keep them. The only thing that is important are the stories, and the only way to keep the stories is to tell them.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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10 Things We Learned About Our Moms From Their Artifcts

In honor of Mother’s Day, Heather and Ellen, the co-founders of Artifcts, thought up something a little different for this week's ARTIcles story. Our co-founders have always said if anything happens to either of them, they have the peace of mind that their daughters will have their Artifcts to know them, the real them. And, they will even know what to do with all the ‘stuff’ they would inevitably leave behind. 

Heather and Ellen decided to put that theory to the test last week and challenged their daughters, Hazel (13 years old) and Violet (14 years old), to co-author a piece about what they’ve learned about their moms through their Artifcts. What they chose was delightful, funny, and at times irreverent. You can see THEIR personalities in their revelations. 

We hope you enjoy this little looky-loo into the minds of young teens through the lens of Artifcts.  

We Know Our Moms. Here's Proof!

Hazel (Heather's daughter): My mother had a secret work life! She was a frequent flier out to Silicon Valley in the 2010s. I had no idea she spent so much time with the tech companies. Rather ironic since she is the least tech savvy of all of us. (Case in point, I just showed her how to add Artifcts to her personal Word dictionary.) I guess she had to know a thing or two about security. She also had awesome taste in shoes, which is how I discovered this whole Silicon Valley thing. View the Artifct.  

Violet (Ellen's daughter): I always see my mom reading, but it never occurred to me to wonder about how connected she is with books until she started Artifcting them. She could definitely be a writer (she says no), with the way she writes her Artifcts and how passionate she is about reading and the guidance it gives her. She has so many favorite books, and she’s always looking for more. One of my favorite things to do with her is book shopping, although she always seems to be surprised at what I pick out. Enjoy one of many #realbooksarebest books Ellen’s Artifcted.  

Hazel: I always knew my mom was the real alpha of skiing, but I did not know she was crazy enough to ski 3 Tre in Madonna di Campiglio. 3 Tre is an (in)famous downhill World Cup run. Sorry, that Artifct is private though, just us!  

Violet: My mom always ‘oohs’ when she sees pretty textiles, but I now realize how much they mean to her and brighten our home. (Great example: A family quilt.) From Mexico to here in Texas, there are many textiles Artifcted that each have a story, and I know she's grateful she gets to look at them every day. 

 

Hazel: Turns out my mother not only knew but Artifcted me skipping school during COVID. Technically I was not skipping school so much so as giving myself a much-deserved snow day. She’s yet to see it my way. View the Artifct.

Violet: My mom’s time in the Czech Republic completely changed the path of her life, and I know from reading her Artifcts and hearing her stories how proud she is of that. She has Czech recipes, ornaments, random items, and everything else Artifcted, and they all show her true character and that she learned so much from her time there, and not just education. Case in point, a little crystal, anyone

 

Hazel: My mother has an unhealthy obsession with trail signs. And road signs. Maybe she’s reliving her early 90s days and she finally saw THE sign. She claims it’s “leave no trace” tourism, I think she’s just crazy. View one of the many trail sign Artifcts she has.  

Violet: My mom sure has a love for travel. Almost all of our trips—Hello, New Orleans!—and hers are Artifcted. From little holiday trips to her Mexico yoga trip and of course her time in the Czech. My mom is always dreaming of trips we can take together, and what we can do to make the most of the family time. It always helps our family bond throughout tough school years when we don’t have much time otherwise.  

 

Hazel: My mother has the patience of a saint, especially when it comes to me and my skibbidy art projects. Me and my trusty pink Crayola scissors have wreaked havoc on house and home and yes, even hair. She’s Artifcted it all. And now I’m dreading my graduation video; she keeps muttering something about karma not being a cat. View one of the many Artifcts.

Violet: She LOVES artwork. This goes along with the textiles, but it’s a little different because it can be anything. Whether it’s an arts and crafts project I butchered in pre-k or a phrase she ordered to hang on the wall, cards from friends and family, photographs, everything. Although she doesn’t agree and doesn’t talk about it, she is an amazing artist. She always helps me on any little sketch I need to do for school, because she did not pass down that gene (rude). (Hi, this is Ellen chiming in. Don’t listen to her. Kid art, like this, is simply the best. 💕)

Curious what your Artifcts say about you? What do you have to lose... Ask your loved ones! Heather & Ellen are certainly glad they did.  

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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I'll Get To It One Day

Reading time: 3 minutes 

We all have them—those projects we’ll get to "one day." No, we’re not talking about chores around the house or our honey-do lists, we all have those too.  

Today we’re specifically talking about projects made with love and attention that we start with the best intentions and then... life happens. Maybe our vision starts to deteriorate, or our arthritis ticks up; or maybe our free time becomes swamped with doctor’s appointments, visits from family, and the like, and those projects are left in a semi-done state to get to one day.

Even if the project is unfinished, it doesn’t diminish the love, the meaning, or the thought behind it. We all have our own reasons or obstacles for not finishing those projects and no one is here to judge.  

We want to take a moment and highlight an example from one of our Arti Community members and encourage you to scan through your own projects and those of loved ones and consider if this story might inspire you to action! 

The Stocking That Wasn’t 

She was an avid needlepoint artist back in the day, and still enjoyed dabbling in the craft as the years went on. She started the tradition of making stockings for her grandchildren one year, many years ago.  

Each stocking took months if not a full year to make but she did make them. Until she got to the last grandchild, that is. She started the stocking, stitch by stitch. She got about halfway through and then life happened. There was always something else to do, some reason why it wouldn't get done today. 

Her family at first teased her about it, hoping that it might prompt her to finish. The teasing turned to pleading to no avail. And now, years later? Vision, arthritis, and well, life, have conspired and she cannot complete the stocking.  

Does it diminish the work she has done? No, not at all! Does it diminish the love, thought, and care? Not even close. Sometimes those unfinished projects have their own stories, even working their way into family lore: “Remember the stocking Grandma started but didn’t finish?” "You mean my stocking? Yeah, I remember!” Even the unfinished piece is now a cherished family heirloom. 

But what happens if you want to finish that project but are no longer able? Or you inherit an unfinished project—blanket, quilt, needlepoint, etc.—that you would love to see finished and used?  

That’s where the Loose Ends Project comes into play, and why we invited them to our Spring 2024 Evenings with Artifcts.

 
 
Click the image to watch the replay.

Loose Ends is on a mission to help families complete unfinished textile projects after a death or disability. It’s truly a labor of love and a gift from the heart. Watch the replay, and maybe get a little inspiration for your unfinished projects or next steps if no one in your family has the skills to see a project through. And when you do see that project through, take a moment to Artifct That! After all, it’s the story, memory, and person who got it started that make the object irreplaceable and uniquely yours.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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So Much 'Stuff:' How They Suck Us In and How We Can Resist!

Careful what you ask for. In his book “Stuffocation,” author James Wallman details how in the post-industrial revolution US economy of the 1920s and 1930s, there was too much of everything, everything produced by farmers to industrial machines. We overachieved! Rather than produce less, the goal became getting consumers to buy more, even if they had enough. Advertisers had to up their games.

The trick was how to get people to lose the “lasts a lifetime” expectation and develop a desire for the newest version, model, or edition that industry was now only too happy to churn out. The fashion industry already exemplified this and now the rest had to catch on, landfills be damned, and provide cheaper, disposable, fashionable everything. 

Fast forward 100 years and the "buy more" concept has persisted and matured, leaving no industry untouched. Here are a few examples to get you thinking like the advertisers do. 

GADGETS.

Millions regularly trade in their favorite gadget—whether a phone, tv, fitness tracker, or otherwise—for the next model the moment it’s released, waiting in line to ensure they are the earliest of adopters. And tech's just the obvious example.  

COLORS!

Have you thought about why there are “colors of the year” and “of the season” that pop up in your feeds and inboxes, often with seasonally suggestive names, like “breezy blue?” All the companies fall in line with their similar version of the “it” blue of the season, until it’s suddenly a beautiful gem green and yet again you rethink your clothing and home decor choices. 

DESIGN CONCEPTS.

Design concepts trend just like colors. Recently “glaze” has popped up on hot pink garments from Lulu Lemon and green frames from Framebridge. This is not to be outdone by “scalloped” edges on picture frames from Archival Methods, mirrors and tables from School House, and toilet paper from Charmin. Product and marketing experts know how to get modern buyers to buy. 

MATCHING SETS AND COMPOSITIONS.

Here’s yet another reason to buy – sets. Whether that’s a matching clothing set or a gallery wall of frames, moving you to buy not one, not a set, but MORE all at once. I mean, the picture shows 10 frames make a gallery, so I guess I need one of each, right? 

Maybe these tactics do not sway you. You have a certain style, and you stick to it. Timeless. Functional. You! What about ...

ENTICING DISCOUNTS.

... the sneaky “up to 30%” off offers? Have you fallen for those? You browse or click and nearly nothing you’re interested in is 30% off, just a tactically chosen few which you overlook as you accelerate through the checkout process because you are already there in the store or your credit card or other digital payment means is already available on your phone or laptop. 

6 Strategies to Help You Muffle the Calls to Buy

In honor of Earth Day that was celebrated on Monday, and in recognition of our general philosophy here at Artifcts that you should stop and smell the roses more often when it comes to your ‘stuff’ to appreciate what you have and why you have it, we’ve curated some easy tactics you can use to halt more stuff from coming into your home.

1. Unsubscribe. (Yes, catalogs, too. Check out options). Have you heard of that movie from 80s, "See No Evil, Hear No Evil?" That's the idea. If you are not seeing those emails and notifications, you are so far ahead of the game. Worried you’ll miss a sale? Set a reminder to check back when you know they usually have sales. Or simply sign up again later if you truly miss seeing their emails. 

2. Delete payment methods. Unless you are on a recurring payment plan that requires a purchase, delete and/or do not save any payment information anywhere. Make it inconvenient to make that purchase. You’ll have to get up out of your seat to get that credit card, giving you time to think again. 

3. Work ahead for sales. You’re a deal hunter. Fabulous. So are we. Save items to your shopping cart weeks before that next big sale. In the US, big sales are like clockwork on major holidays. By preloading items to your cart, you have time to think on it. When you return weeks later you might discover that at least some of those items are not as “must have” as you first thought. 

4. Visualize where it will go, where and when you will wear it. Maybe you love a beautiful, framed picture, a side table, a cool clock, a dazzling watch, or a “travels-beautifully” dress. Pause to think, where exactly will I hang this picture in my home? Where will this table fit? You already have a watch. Why do you need or want this one? 

5. Keep savings goals front and center. Do you have debt to pay down? A big trip you’re dreaming about? What about ambitions for a lower stress summer with the kids in camps they’ll love? Keep photos of your goals around you. Track your savings each week. Or add to your savings each time you resist a purchase as a reward toward your goal, even if it’s only skipping that espresso. Whatever it takes for you, remember the thrill of that purchase might be short-lived compared to your still more thrilling goals. 

6. Skip “{fill in the blank} math.” Here’s a recent example of this straight from our teenage daughters and their talk about “girl math.” Normally the swim tops and bottoms are individually $30 but there’s a buy one-get one sale. Dear daughter picked out a swim set and said, “Awesome, I have $30 more dollars to spend.” On something, anything, no idea what, but let’s go spend! Sigh.

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We feel better already, reminding ourselves of these strategies. We're not turning over a minimalist leaf or shaming anyone for enjoying a bit of shopping. But we do hope your buying does not lessen anything else in your life, from enjoying your home to taking those trips of a lifetime you save for and remember always.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Going Green. With Artifcts. 2024 Edition

We’re back with the 2nd edition of our “Going Green. With Artifcts.” guide to celebrate Earth Day 2024. If you missed our 1st edition, download it here.

What makes our guide unique is its focus on items with potential sentimental value. What to do with those ‘things’ that have a story, memory, or special moment behind them but have outlived their useful life-span (to you!). We recommend you Artifct the items and their stories before you let them go. 

Partial view of the Going Green with Artifcts guide

 
 
Click the image to download your copy. And use the hyperlinks in the guide to learn more.

That means we do not usually cover plastic servingwear, leftover building supplies, unused paints and the like. It is true that you might struggle to part with a box of acrylic paints that belonged to your brother who was an artist. And yes, that could make for an amazing Artifct when paired with a story about him and photos of his artistic works. But we’ve tried to feature items we know have been Artifcted many times over and may also be in need of a green-friendly next life.

Surprise Inside Our Guide

We were delighted to include two companies whose founders we have met over the course of building Artifcts. One is Ephemera Search and is well-known in genealogy circles for the unique value it brings to family history research through postcards, telegrams, and letters. The other is the LooseEnds Project, a non-profit bringing the power of volunteers at a global scale to complete textiles projects our loved ones were unable to finish.  

This year’s guide also includes a nod to Artifcts®’ new partnership with Susan G. Komen®. During acute and chronic healthcare events alike, we tend to accumulate medical supplies that sometimes cost us a pretty penny even if we need them for only days, weeks, or months. Then what? We’ve found one resource specific to breast cancer to answer that question. 

We hope all the featured resources will help or inspire you as you keep the memories, not the stuff... and stay green friendly in the process!

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Swedish Death Cleaning Your Digital Legacy

Reading time: 7 minutes 

Swedish Death Cleaning provides a conceptual framework to encourage us each to organize and declutter our homes to reduce the burden on loved ones who would otherwise need to sift through 1000s of objects one day when we’re no longer here. We might be some of the biggest fans of Margareta Magnusson, who introduced the concept in her book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, that she’s never met.💗 We all can understand and maybe even relate to the concept but having a term for it gives us a starting point to act on it! 

Artifcts is your best-in-class Swedish Death Cleaning app. It’s a big reason why we write on and provide workshops related to this topic. Today we’re considering Swedish Death Cleaning from yet another angle: Your digital legacy.

Defining “Digital Legacy” 

What ARE we talking about, “digital legacy?” 

Good question! Because, no, in this context, it is not about the entirety of your online life or digital assets, e.g. banking, mortgages, insurance policies, investments, or similar. All critical! All should be a part of your estate plan and/or will. You should also invest in an online digital vault to corral it together, benefit from automated and smart reminders, and enjoy the ease of sharing securely or accessing it yourself in an emergency.

Announcement for Digital Legacy Workshop from AfterLight

 
 
Take a deep dive! Our friends at AfterLight have a new workshop offering expert guidance on organizing and securing your digital estate. Register today.

What we are talking about with "digital legacy" are the digital items that reflect our lives and personal histories as well as who we are as members of families and communities. 

What makes up your digital legacy depends in part on your age as well as your personality and views. Some of us have chosen not to adopt certain aspects of digital life or have intentionally created the smallest digital footprint possible. Others of us go big online for personal and professional reasons. 

Below we’ll provide a framework to help you get started as you organize and maybe declutter your own digital legacy to ensure its best chance of meaning and survival!

What: Take Inventory 

Literally pause, grab a piece of paper or digital notebook, and start jotting down your digital footprint. Yes, you might need to wander your home, pull out some bins, open some drawers, but this is the easy part. We’ll help you get started. Do you or other household members have any of these? 

      • Digital music and/or movie libraries, including media that’s natively digital and any you might have digitized when you, oh, let’s say, “decluttered” that VHS, DVD, or CD collection. 
      • Photographs, again, digital native photos from your phone, most likely, and those pics you have scanned or otherwise digitized over time. 
      • Social media posts, and before those, your blogs 
      • Academic and professional research, including publications, patents, and even genealogy, family history, and DNA information.  
      • NFTs and other digital works stored, for example, in your digital wallet(s).

Where: As Tech has Changed, Storage has Changed 

Before cell phones were our go-to video recorders, there were small handheld versions that were wow’ing, because they had great quality and storage for the time, and were many times smaller than those you held with a strap in one hand or the ones that were so big that they sat on your shoulder. Did you ever download all the videos on your digital handheld camera? Treasures untold may be waiting. 

Think creatively through all the digital tech you’ve used and held onto through the years when you consider where your files may be resting, and in some cases, actively degrading. 

Bulk stashes via old and new hardware.

As time has gone on, we’ve been able to more cheaply and conveniently store massive volumes of data on those things and yet you might be surprised how little you actually saved to some. One of our Arti Community members told us she has 15 thumb drives that each contain three songs her daughter recorded during her spring and fall piano recitals.

Dig out those thumb drives, memory cards that may still be in old cameras or spare cases, disks (floppy, hard, and otherwise), and flash drives. Environmental implications aside, harvesting and storing those digital files together, and backed up in a second location, is a relatively easy, cheap, and fast undertaking. Hurray! 

Desktop and laptop hard drives. 

Hopefully before you donated or recycled old computers, you saved the contents somewhere else, a flash drive, your preferred cloud environment, or your new computer, perhaps. Wherever it went, take stock. And watch out if your employer is okay with you using your work device for personal use, too, as you may have some gems on those devices. 

“The Cloud,” e.g. Google Drive, Box, Drop Box, and Permanent, among others. 

You may have gotten on a kick and started storing stuff within a particular environment because a friend or family member was sharing stuff with you there and you followed suit. But what are you using nowadays? Consider if your habits have changed and you need to rescue files from various cloud locations and move to one central archive for storage. 

Memberships, especially apps and websites you love or loved once upon a time.

If you are worried you might not remember them all, you have some options.  

Option A. Checking billing statements is the best starting point. We hope you’re not paying for something you haven’t used in years. While simpler than scrolling through your email for pages, this still gets messy if you are using many different payment methods (credit cards, PayPal, etc.) and/or other household members might be paying via a family account. So, option B ...  

Option B. Go to the apps lists on your phone, tv, and computer. What’s installed? Are you paying for it? While you’re in there, check which have location, contact, notification, and background refresh services turned on. You might want to lock down your privacy! Bonus Tip: For Apple (iOS) mobile users, you can go to your Settings -> Click on your name/circle at the top -> and click “Subscriptions.” You may find surprises there, too! 

Take a moment to consider first what content do (or did) you create or upload to these memberships that you own and can potentially download to back up elsewhere and/or to then close your account. Then, if you want to keep the account open and have backed up the content, check the account’s settings for legacy contact and/or memorialization options and set yours up so you do not lose anything you created or upload to that membership. You also will then hoepfully avoid falling into a scenario in which inactivity grants the company via its terms and conditions the right to delete your data or use your data in a way you do not support.

Best Practice call out box

Now What: What Do You Value Most? What Do “They” Value Most? 

Life comes with inherent limits. Only so much time in a day, money in our accounts, bandwidth in our brains. We must choose carefully how we spend our resources. What matters to you will help you prioritize how you manage your digital legacy. 

Here are three steps you can take to manage your digital legacy. These are not mutually exclusive! Start at ‘good,’ add in ‘better,’ and laugh, enjoy, and gain peace of mind with ‘best.’

Good. Inventory the items and put physical storage devices, e.g. flash drives, in a fire-safe place. Get rid of what you don’t want. This might mean recycling some tech (options exist!) and cleaning out files. But before you get too aggressive with that decluttering, ASK loved ones if they are interested in the types of materials you are ready to shed. You may be surprised what matters to them versus to yourself! This will help you with the next option.

Better. Digitize items with backups and share access to those resources with loved ones. This is now moving into prime Swedish Death Cleaning territory where we have not just organized but we’ve also decluttered in a way that’s potentially meaningful. Loved ones get the option to raise their hand and say, “Yes, that I want.” And the beauty here is it is digital. It won’t take up physical space so it’s less risky for them to say yes.

Best. While we all love photos, videos, and documentary evidence of cool things, like being the mastermind behind a patent, without context, even digital items become clutter we ignore. Here’s the story of one family’s “great” discovery. Whether your format is Artifcts, scrapbooks, or photobooks, find a medium to gift your loved ones a ‘why’ and not just more digital stuff. What is the story behind this photo? In layman's speak, what was this amazing scientific breakthrough in this patent that bears your name? What did it mean to you

Let us know about your progress. What was the easy part? Are you stuck on any specific digital histories of yours? What was the outcome? 

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More from Artifcts on Swedish Death Cleaning: 

The Joys of Swedish Death Cleaning 

Swedish Death Cleaning a Marriage After Death or Divorce 

How Swedish Death Cleaning Helps During a Move

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Evenings with Artifcts Spring 2024 series is live!

Spring has arrived and with it new energy for the return of Evenings with Artifcts and the generous guests who offer their time and expertise to all of us here in the Arti Community. This spring our 5-part series is anchored on the concept of decluttering. Our guests know a lot about stuff: decluttering it, collecting it, and making healthy choices about it all for ourselves and in support of others. 

No 'stuff' shaming or extreme minimalism hacks here. We'll talk frameworks to tackle the sentimental clutter and photos, supporting those going through life transitions and parsing through their belongings, and rethinking what exactly a "collection" is and why it holds value to us.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday evenings at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET from April 17 through May 15. Look for event and RSVP details each week in our e-newsletter and on our social media channels (Instagram and Facebook). And please share with friends, family, and others you meet. The more the merrier!

If you missed any of our past Evenings with Artifcts, catch up now!

 
 
 
 

ENJOY A RECAP OF EVENINGS WITH ARTIFCTS, SPRING '24

 

Zoe Kim joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 1: Zoë Kim

@RaisingSimple, author of Minimalism for Families

DECLUTTERING, WORKSHOPS

 

Related content: 

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

- Zoë's 7 Key Questions to Help You Declutter

- More decluttering strategies from Artifcts ->

Photo Managers join Evenings with Artifcts

Week 2: Cathi Nelson, Marci Brennan

Professional Photo Managers

PHOTOS, OTHER MEDIA, LEGACY

 

Related content: 

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

- Explore classes from The Photo Managers and the upcoming virtual conference

- Get Marci's FREE downloadable with archiving basics and steps

- Much more on photos and other media from Artifcts ->

Loose Ends joins Evenings with Artifcts

Week 3: The Loose Ends Project

Volunteer, non-profit organization

TEXTILES, LEGACY

 

Related content: 

- Watch the replay on YouTube -> 

- Loose Ends was featured in our "Going Green. With Artifcts!" Earth Day 2024 Guide

- Learn more about qualifying projects and volunteering with Loose Ends

Margit Novak and Dr. Daryl Appleton join Evenings with Artifcts

Week 4: Margit Novack, Dr. Daryl Appleton

Stories of downsizing and the science behind the process

DOWNSIZING, SANDWICH GENERATION, WELLNESS

 

Related content: 

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

- ARTIcles by Artifcts: Swedish Death Cleaning & Your Next Move

- Catch our replay with NASMM from Spring 2023 Evenings with Artifcts ->

Experts in collections and preservation join Evenings with Artifcts

Week 5: Sarah Reeder, Tanzy Ward, & Surprise Guest from the Arti Community

Experts in appraisals, preservation, collection management + a collector!

DECLUTTER, LEGACY, PLANNING

 

Related content: 

- Watch the replay on YouTube ->

- ARTIcles by Artifcts and Collections -> 

- You may also enjoy: Everything You Wanted to Know About Appraisals, But Were Afraid to Ask

If you'd like to suggest a topic or speaker for future events, share with us at Editor@Artifcts.com.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Emergency Go Bag: Don't Forget the Memories

Reading time: 5 minutes

As spring cleaning continues and storms rage, we’re taking a moment to help you make the most of that frenzy to also boost your preparedness, a key theme here at Artifcts.

We’ve shared with you the true story of our co-founder Ellen who experienced a home fire at the age of seven and encouraged you to consider what objects in your home matter most. Whether you’re in a location prone to wildfires, floods, tornados, or other extreme weather events, preparation is key.

We also recently shared the story of a woman who proactively relocated her cherished belongings to a secure, climate-controlled storage facility out of harm’s way from the California wildfires only to have a flood at the storage facility destroy many of her belongings, photos, videos, and documents included.

Today is all about your emergency go-bag. Do you have one? Think twice, and consider these essential questions:

      • Does your go-bag address the needs of each person in your household? 
      • Are the items inside fully charged?
      • Have any medicine or food items expired?
      • Did you borrow an item from the bag and never replace it?
      • Have you done anything to include the heart-value items in life that will see you through and beyond a life-changing disaster?

Let's take a closer look at the important elements of your go bag. Read on!

How to Prepare Against the Unexpected – Digital for the Win!

Well, maybe there’s no "winning" when it comes to disasters. Loss is real and painful. But we can mitigate our losses with less effort and time than ever before, along with the promise of far greater security and resiliency. How? Digitizing key personal information is your answer to recover faster and with less stress.

Just like we take advantage of advances in modern medicine to live longer, healthier, more active lives, we should take advantage of advances in digitization that make it easier and cheaper than ever to keep digital copies at our fingertips for critical documents. In an emergency, please have digitized and securely stored:

      • IDs, including driver’s license, military ID, employment ID, passport; it’s especially important to have at least one form of ID digitized that has your photo on it.  
      • Insurance cards 
      • Mortgages and titles for homes, cars, and other high-value assets 
      • Financial details, most likely in the form of online access to your accounts. But we also recommend securely stored digital copies of credit and debit cards for deactivation against fraud and rapid replacement. 
      • Contact lists. Do you know the phone numbers of your neighbors, your financial planner, your insurance company? We’d be shocked if you did. They are likely only stored on your phone. 
      • Photos. Okay, hear us out. We are talking about photos you might have in hardcopy and photos that you may have stored digitally on a drive and not yet backed up elsewhere. We strongly recommend using a backup for your digitized photos and other media.

With all these items digitized, you could in theory gain access to resources to replace what you lose if you need to leave your home urgently.  

Notice that Artifcts will be publishing an article about digital vaults soon

Now, About That Go Bag

Your go bags—which we hope are light weight and at least water resistant—will offer immediate, short-term security. Backpacks are your best bet for any variety of circumstances. DO NOT bet on carting around bins or boxes of any kind. You should hope these are fireproof and redundant. See our earlier point about digitization! 

Suggested contents for a bag can be absurdly loooong. Having consulted those lists and experienced go-bag moments ourselves, here’s what’s always in ours. The big exception is cold weather environments – at the start of the season, we add gloves, hats, hand warmers, and foil wraps.

      • Slip photocopies of a driver’s license, passport, or other ID for each adult in the household and your insurance information (home, car, and health) in an easily accessible waterproof pouch. A plethora of inexpensive pouches are available online and in retail stores, especially sporting goods and luggage.  
      • Changes of clothing, especially undergarments. 
      • Medicines, but be careful they do not expire, and ear plugs. You don’t know where you may need to sleep, and quality sleep is vital. 
      • Multiple battery packs (to charge devices we hope you’ll be able to have with you) 
      • A water purification device, such as a Grayl, so no matter where you are displaced to, you’ll have access to safe drinking water. On the topic of water, we also keep Nuun or similar in our bag for a hydration boost. If you’re in a hot climate, chugging water, working hard clearing property or otherwise on your feet, you may need some electrolytes on your side to pop into your water. 
      • Long shelf-life, macronutrient complete snacks. No, we shouldn’t subsist on meal-replacement bars, but if there were ever a time, this is it. Just make sure whatever you choose aligns with your dietary restrictions. Shelf-stable protein shakes work great, too. Jerkies, nuts and dried fruits, as well, but watch out for nuts which expire more quickly.

Forgetting Something? What Says Home, Comfort, and Family to You?

Creature comforts and irreplaceable items need to make that go-bag. Will you die without them? No. Will you feel better, have an excuse to smile, in a sad and stressful situation? Very likely.

This weekend, ask each person in your home what one or two items would they most want to take in an emergency, and record that information digitally in your mobile phone, so if time permits you are prepared to act, not ask.

      • When kids are young, creature comforts might be a lovey, but you could also prepack a spare of that lovey, along with small games and a cozy blanket and an inflatable pillow.
      • For us adults, your backup drives can live in your go bag if you do not have a cloud-based backup. Any cherished or valuable to you items tucked safely away? Can they go safely in this pre-packed bag instead of the back of a closet or box? When a fire sweeps a home, you may have only seconds to grab and go before smoke or fire stops you.

If your first step is to purchase a pre-made emergency go bag from the myriad of online and brick-and-mortar shops, super. But we hope you'll choose to take steps for you and your loved ones toward a more personal go-bag to protect yourselves. Explore our Allies in 'Stuff' as well for resources and professionals that can help lift the burden off you.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Use Your Voice: Artifcts Now Offers In-App Audio & Video Recording

There’s something magical about hearing a story from the voice of the original storyteller. The melody of their voice, their points of emphasis, the word choices that are uniquely them.

While you might be the type who has lots of videos and voice memos on your phone at the ready to Artifct, others of us might be more of the spontaneous variety. 

Our newest update to the Artifcts app is going to support you as you capture these stories. 

Update the Artifcts App Today: Record Audio and Video Directly in the App! 

Next time you open the Artifcts app, you’ll see an update is required. Accept it, wait moments, and voila, you’ll have our brand new recording feature. (Haven’t downloaded our app yet? Eek! Here you go for iOS/App Store and Android/Google Play.) 

When you click to create a new Artifct—or add a new media file to an existing Artifct—you will be able to choose to record audio or video in the moment.  

And we went a step further, too, to remove any frustration by making it simple to: 

  • Trim your recording to fit the file size available for your Artifct.
  • Compress your recording if you want to make room for longer recordings.
  • Strip out the video to keep the audio only.
  • Download your recording to your device to edit later.

Here’s a case when “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” In the pictures that follow, we show you what it looks like step by step to record a video within the Artifcts app when you are creating a new Artifct.

Step 1 - Open the Artifcts App

Step 2 - Choose '+ Artifcts', Artifcts App

Step 3 - Record and Save, Artifcts App

Step 4 - Enjoy & Share, Artifcts App

Try it out and see what you think! 

Next time you’re inspired, or a friend or family starts telling a great tall tale, grab your phone, open up the app and record.

Don’t worry if your story runs long. You will have an option to trim it, compress it, or save it to your device in its entirety before trimming the best part to include in the Artifct. You can always link later in your Artifct to the full hour-long saga if you wish for posterity!

Need inspiration? The options are endless. Here are a few from the Arti Community: 

      • Ghost stories: Grandpa telling a ghost story + photo of the person who was a ghost.
      • Attic cleanout: Auntie Tess holding up an old gown + recording of her talking about her Broadway debut (Broadway Street in Kansas City, Missouri, that is).
      • Get cookin’! Photos of the recipe card, key ingredients, and end result + video explaining how to wrap the dumpling just so.

Great Great Grandma's Wedding Ring, Artifcts

 
 
Bonus example: Our co-founder @egoody captured some family history in a sitdown with her great aunt. Whose ring was it originally anyway?

As always with all of the features of Artifcts, but especially major new deliveries like this one, we love and appreciate your feedback. You can contact us at Hello@Artifcts.com.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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What Should You Do With Old Photo Albums?

Reading time: 5 minutes 

Dusty albums. Bulky albums. What do we do with you? We want to lighten our loads and declutter without guilt. 

Who among us compiles physical photo albums anymore? "Back in the day” a store like Target would have had a huge photo department. You could purchase and process film and buy photo frames and albums, along with supplemental inserts in a dizzying array of designs and sizes. 

No, not so anymore.

As we’ve shifted to digital photos, we’ve likewise replaced physical albums with digital-friendly options, including build-your-own photo books, shared digital albums on social media and cloud storage sites, and digital photo frames, like the beautiful frames from Aura. Physical photo albums today are usually reserved for major milestone events, like weddings, trips, and anniversaries, when we feel it’s worthwhile to sit down and thoughtfully curate those experiences.  

Those of us with photo albums tucked in our closets and bookshelves, those that we have created and inherited, not to mention the albums our parents and grandparents own and we’ll inherit one day, need solutions. What do we do with all the existing albums, so they avoid landing in a craft shop or, worse, a dumpster when the details about the people and stories within are lost to time? 

Photo Albums Have Problematic Similarities to Scrapbooks 

Like scrapbooks, photo albums are designed to be shared, in person, and talked through, reminiscing about and reliving with the telling the places you’ve been, the experiences you have had, and more. Unfortunately, also like scrapbooks, photo albums present long-term challenges: 

      1. Do you know the stories behind the photos? (We have tips for that!) Will you remember them? Scrapbooks tend to at least provide more leeway to add notes and stories than photo albums. Stories behind the photos are incredibly vulnerable to being forgotten. We can animate photos in creepy ways, but they cannot remember for us the stories lost. Look back through your albums. Do you recall all the people and events in a way that’s meaningful anymore? 
      2. Albums, the pages within, and the photos will deteriorate. Little known fact outside the photo industry: Those photo prints you ordered in single and even triplicate were never meant to last more than a dozen years, and that's for the highest quality pritns! That’s why the colors change as the chemicals used to create the images degrade and the paper eventually becomes more fragile, too. 
      3. Your album is singular and unique, unless you have access to the negatives. But even then, those are decaying with every passing day as well, so ... 
      4. Albums can be bulky. Do you have room to continue to store them? What about those you may inherit? They are substantial in size and often uncooperative with short shelves and shallow storage. In the words of one Arti Community member, "I’m in my 40s and my albums are still at my parents’ house. I didn't feel the need to take them with me, but, yes, someday I’ll hold onto them. I don’t want to throw them away."

How Can You Preserve Photo Albums?  

And maybe even let some photo albums go ... 

Share the love. At the risk of making a lot of people very angry, we have to say it: You are not beholden to anyone to hold onto your own albums or anyone else's albums. Ask! Do YOU want them? 

Don’t fall for the guilt trip you are getting or think you’ll get. Ideally, you should consider yourself a steward of the history within those albums and as such, ask family members if they want the albums before you take them apart or get rid of them. It’s the kind thing to do. But beyond that, ...

... Digitization has never been easier or more affordable. We have shared tips about digitization in general. You can buy machines to do it yourself, but there’s a catch. We turned to Cathi Nelson, founder and CEO of The Photo Managers, to explain: 

"Many people created scrapbook photo albums during the decades of scrapbooking and those albums are often 12x12, which is too big for traditional flatbed scanners. You can outsource this project to a professional photo manager whose scans allow them to capture the entire page and individual photos.  

If that is not in your budget, and you have a flatbed scanner, such as the Epson v600, scan each page and use photo stitching software to magically merge the pages.  

Another option is to carefullly remove the photos and scan them (front and back). If they are stuck to the pages, you can use a butter knife or dental floss to gently remove the photos."

We want to also celebrate the amazing ease with which apps from modern photo companies like Photomyne and VividPix —with scanners at local museums, libraries, and historical societies that can scan whole album pages up to 11.8" x 17″—can slice up each photo on the page into its own file photo or image file. No need to take the pages apart or tediously scan them one by one. This is great for do-it-yourselfers!

Digitization Wisdom

Before you and as you digitize, keep three things in mind:  

  • Photo layouts may be a part of the story. Some albums may be chronological or thematic. Others are designed for people to arrange photos in a way that may inherently help them to share stories, too. Take this example:

yellowed photo album page with baby photos

Had I scanned each photo and then disassembled the photo album, I would have disconnected these photos from the story of that day as captured in the Artifct, zapping their collective ability to convey a piece of my childhood. Instead, I could photograph or video the album before dismantling, if that’s what I decide to do with the album.

  • Capture ALL the details. You scanned the fronts to get the job done quickly, but did you even look at the backs? Now that you have, how will you preserve the additional details on the back with the photo? In a good-better-best plan, this could be: 
      • Create an index as you go for your photos with the file name and other details you care about (location, people, event, ...) or edit the photo metadata (e.g. date, location, and other information stored with the image file) with the additional information; 
      • Transform the album into a photo book and add the information in the image captions;  
      • Artifct the photos and include what you know about them. Check out our interrogation techniques for photos.
  • Share the stories behind the photos. CONNECT with your loved ones. Don’t be annoying and share 100s of photos from a single trip. Tell them the “best of” or most meaningful moments. Artifct the best ones! Artifcts are easy to share, helping you get the story out there so it can live on. You might also share the Artifct with a friend who is going on a trip to the same place you went and want your tips! You can also easily share an Artifct to a friend’s or family member’s digital photo frame. Ask them how.  

If you are taking the time to create photo albums, maybe take time to create an additional Artifct or two to go with each album, even if the Artifct is of the album itself, and is your story of why you created it, what it means to you, etc. Bonus, you can include audio and video and bring your photo album to life for the next generation.

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Other ARTIcles by Artifcts you may enjoy: 

Photos + Stories Go Better Together: A Conversation with Cathi Nelson, CEO of The Photo Managers

Storytellers, Beware!

Rescue Mission: That’s More Than a Photo

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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