Digital Archiving Resources

Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion


Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion


Web archiving


The ubiquity of digital data and its seemingly effortless and transparent transmission in routine commerce and communication is rarely discussed from both technical and socio-political perspectives in one work. In this book, however, the authors provide a detailed technological history of digitization while also illuminating the social and cultural consequences of this information explosion. Two areas of concern for the authors and of particular interest for digital archivists are the changing view toward privacy and knowing what data should be preserved or deleted. In the former area, Abelson, Ledeen, and Lewis explain the gradual shift in perceptions of privacy as digital devices including credit cards, cell phones, digital cameras, and GPS trackers that encode and embed personal and local data. Consumers of these devices become acclimatized to the trade-off of personal privacy for the conveniences they provide.

Data leakage and unethical trading of information, however, is another type of trade-off that challenges those responsible for securing and maintaining digital content, (which the authors contend is regulated by the U.S. in piecemeal fashion). Tracking and securing digitized documents are matters of concern for archivists, not just to balance the needs of the citizen’s right to know and to privacy. Knowing what to make accessible, for whom, and what must be done for long-term preservation requires an understanding of the technical properties of its collected artifacts. The authors discuss the technical properties of text and image, underscoring the importance of applying this knowledge to storage methods. In addition to storing data, the authors also discuss the difficulty in permanently deleting data, despite the short life of technological hardware and software. Creating multiple copies, and sharing content by standardizing protocols and data structures, requires widespread coordination and what the authors describe, “creative compromise.”


Abelson, Hal
Ledeen, Ken
Harry R. Lewis


Addison-Wesley Professional




Polk, Victoria



Is Format Of

Print book




Bibliographic Citation

Abelson, Harold, Ken Ledeen, and Harry R. Lewis. Blown to Bits: your life, liberty, and happiness after the digital explosion. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Addison-Wesley, 2008.




Abelson, Hal, Ledeen, Ken, and Harry R. Lewis, “Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion,” Digital Archiving Resources, accessed December 14, 2018,