Selecting a personal document manager

I am one of those people. A haphazard collector of everything from scraps of paper found in the street to bits of broken computers. Ok, maybe I am not picking up scraps of paper in the street very often, I mean unless they look very interesting, but I do have a bit of a hoarder mentality. I once had a file cabinet full of zines and papers and things that I found interesting and wanted to save or preserve in some way. I particularly remember a one page poem with some crude drawings I found laying around a school I was going to back in Chicago, Columbia College, oh this was around 1994 I suppose, that I’ve lost over the years and sometimes wish that I had a scan of it. I just remember the crude drawing of a gun in one part of it, and the poem, I had not read anything similar to it before at that time. It had this sort of hip hop poetry slam kind of rhythm to it. I can’t remember any of it now, but the image and the feeling of it remain. I guess that is what makes a good poem, even though you can’t remember the words the feeling and the meaning of it remain. Really I can’t tell you the meaning of it, other than it meant something to me. Something about youth and hustling and trying to “make it” maybe.

Time is marching on though, I am certainly beyond trying to “make it”. There is nothing to be made. I am here in this place, my home. I have made it. Now I just have to keep it. Keep it over my head until I die, I suppose. I remember those English lessons, to avoid using the word I, but that was before they invented blogs. So shut up English teacher whose name I can’t remember now.

I happened to notice a post on twitter by a person active on the Internet these many years, an inspiration to me and many others especially if you happen to be a Librarian and/or, I want to say Internet Rights advocate? Is that a thing? Well she has a Wikipedia page:

And the twitter post I found inspiring:

Which made me reminisce about one of the first times I encountered Jessamyn on the Internet. She was writing on some forgotten web platform, really I can’t remember what it was now, maybe blogger? She mentioned an exhibit at the Chicago Public Library on Jorge Luis Borges. I would not have been aware of the exhibit if it were not for her web post mentioning it, and this was long before twitter. When was it?

Well, fortunately I had a way to find out, since one of the things I can remember from that exhibit was a drawing of a tiger that Borges had made as a child. Similar to the “Dream Tigers” piece itself, I can still visualise that crude drawing, me who can’t remember the brow or the face of a woman… heh, I am writing that from memory it’s from the poem, well prose piece, I guess you would call it. Anyway I had purchased a first edition copy of the 1964 edition of Dreamtigers on eBay around the same time, possibly after seeing the exhibit. I stuck the brochure from the exhibit in that book. I have lost, given and sold many of my possessions over the past 20 years, relocated half way around the world, but that book is one thing I will always hang on to. So now I know it was late 2001, September/November, when I went to that exhibit Jessamyn informed me of. I uploaded a scan of the brochure to the Internet Archive now:

Hopefully there are no copyright infringements in me uploading that w/ out the CPL’s permission, I mean I wouldn’t think so, nor do I care really. I just think it’s nice that now you can pop in a query for “Jorge Luis Borges Chicago Public Library” on the Internet Archive and see that brochure now. I don’t know how to put a license on the document, I just left that field blank, but they were giving it away for free so I figure it is in the public domain somehow.

So anyway, there have been so many things I have lost over the years, but that is not one of them and now I have preserved it in some way. There are a lot of other things I would like to digitize in my life. From shopping receipts, bills and other personal documents to art and zines I’ve collected over the years. I used to trade zines, not that much, but occasionally over the years. Many I have lost but some I still hang on to. I’d like to digitize them for myself, and I don’t want to tread on anyone’s copyright, so I’m looking for a self hosted document management software solution for myself. Not to expose on the public Internet. Hosted on a Linux virtual server somewhere. I don’t have to create a list here that I’m looking at, other people have done that already:

I have already used and even tested out a local install of Alfresco on an old laptop and it worked for me. Running your document management on 8 year old laptop w/ a single SATA drive is not a good idea, and it did indeed fail eventually, so now I am ready to setup the application on a virtual server hosted in cloud running on some redundant hardware. I already have a server setup and running a Java application, the open source RSS reader Commafeed, which I have been using and keeping updated for many years, so with a bit more resources I’m sure I could fit Alfresco on there as well. It looks like kind of a bear to maintain, but I’m sure I could manage it. Looking at the alternatives to Alfresco though the licensing and Django based platform of Mayan EDMS is very attractive though, so I am considering giving that a spin as well. It’s just then I have to adapt to managing another “stack” and I really don’t want to. But I should really learn me some Django, so there is that.

And there are many others. But like in the case of this brochure I uploaded to the Internet Archive, I’m thinking about this flow chart, something like:

Is item scanable? Scan it.

Is item probably in the public domain? Upload it to the Internet Archive. Or somewhere like that.

Is item personal? Upload to document manager not on the public Internet.

Yadda yadda. Well there, I wrote something. If I have more time I will report on progress. But I think at least I have narrowed down my document management solution to two things.






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