Media Archaeology and Digital Stewardship

I was fortunate to have the chance to think through the relationship between the field of media archaeology, the Media Archaeology Lab, and digital preservation/stewardship thanks to this interview with Trevor Owens on the Library of Congress blog, The Signal, called “Media Archaeology and Digital Stewardship: An Interview with Lori Emerson.” The invitation to talk with Trevor was particularly fortuitous because Matthew Kirschenbaum had been here at CU Boulder the week before, discussing these very same issues in a faculty seminar he led called “Doing Media Archaeology.” You can read the interview here – I’d be interested in hearing comments you might have, especially about the possibility of a hardware/software resource sharing program.

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Categories: criticism, digital, e-literature, history of computing, media archaeology lab

Author:Lori Emerson

I am an Associate Professor of English and Intermedia Arts, Writing, and Performance at the University of Colorado Boulder. I'm the author of Reading Writing Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound and co-editor of the Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media.

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3 Comments on “Media Archaeology and Digital Stewardship”

  1. October 12, 2012 at 6:35 PM #

    Love this sentence “But what happens to our cultural memory, our past and therefore our future, if practically every work of e-literature disappears in the name of ephemerality – whether intentional or not? ”

    I have several cds of great art (“new”media) works that are unreadable – OS9 platform etc. I keep them partly for their beautiful boxes, partly to remember, partly because I have a tough time throwing stuff away:)

    As an artist working with digital technologies, it’s always a question of what to do with old works. Do you just display the documentation and leave it at that, or do you live with the broken parts (say on a website which used old scripts that no longer work) or is part of its inherent charm its brokenness? A friend of mine who is a sound artist recently had a show, and said that he would have an easier time selling an audio piece on an old reel to reel tape that no one could play than he could a cd for $5.

    A national (international!) resource exchange is a great idea.

    • October 12, 2012 at 9:57 PM #

      Thanks for this Deanne – yet another great example of why a resource exchange could be so marvelous – I have the hardware/software to play your old “new” media works! I’d be interested in hearing about what you do to archive your work – do you then try to hold on to working versions of the tech to keep it alive? It’s interesting to think about how a web-based work of art that doesn’t connect to the internet but that still has all the files can still be viewed/experienced.

  2. October 15, 2012 at 4:08 PM #

    I noticed I didn’t specify, the great unreadable art I have is by others.
    For my own work, it’s a challenge, one that is in process. A few online projects I made, I did anonymously (wanting to explore the notion of authorship, but not realizing I was forsaking fame at the same time;) – so to go back and alter them seems unnecessary as they aren’t attached to me. The others, especially one that is currently part of a new media show, I feel a need to “fix” – but then the how to translate the impetus that produced small features that were unique to what web browsing was in 2001? The little things that felt key to the reading of the work aren’t incorporated into “modern” browsers so I would have to figure out how to translate them.

    For the moment, I haven’t even updated my portfolio site:), so thinking about how to keep old works alive is a lower priority. I’ll have to upgrade that priority.

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