Blog Post #8

“Hoarding is not preservation” and “Backing up data is not preservation”. Terrance Owens begins his book The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation with a checklist of what is specifically not digital preservation. The two checkpoints above are five and six of what isn’t digital preservation, respectively. These two really stuck out to me because I’m sure all of us have had a messy desktop or have had to help a relative organize a plethora of digital photos at some point. Technology truly makes it so easy to become a hoarder even when we may not be one off the computer. (A side note, but I see this on Steam. People will hoard hundreds if not thousands of games they will never even play! So sad.)

So, then what is digital preservation? I feel like this term can be utilized on two different levels. On the individual level, digital preservation is the willingness to catalogue and save aspects of your life that you deem important. From being on the internet since I was 10, I’ve seen a wide range of personal digital preservation. Some people rip, tag, and organize thousands of CDs on their computer in an attempt to fossilize their musical taste. Others upload and digitize their artwork on online art websites. And others take the time to help their aunt organize all those photos of their relatives at birthday parties. And then, digital preservation can refer to something bigger: An institution, a website, or some kind of group. I know I discussed my interest in Japanese visual novels in my Twine post. Well, there is currently a digital preservation project running under VNDB.org (“Visual Novel Database”) that is archiving every visual novel that has ever been created and published. This is being done by both Japanese people and foreign fans around the world. The database catalogues the covers, sample screenshots, genre, story plot, company, date published, age target, languages available, and where the game can be bought. This is an example of a digital preservation project that is being run and contributed to by a multitude of different people.

I believe that these kinds of digital preservation projects are important whether we’re talking about video games or a museum’s online catalogue of objects. It’s not a bad thing to have the world’s knowledge accessible at your fingertips. On the other hand, digital sustainability is another issue. I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “once you put it on the internet, it’s there forever”. Now, while this may be true to some extent, that doesn’t mean the content is accessible forever. Many websites and pages from the early days of the internet are still there, sure, but it’s only because they have been archived in some fashion. This is something I’m quite cognizant of as an artist. I currently publish my web novel on the site Tapas. And Tapas is a popular site for web creators; but this week we saw another popular, long-running site (Smackjeeves) announce their closure at the end of this year… Basically, what I’m saying is preservation doesn’t always equal sustainability. (And make sure to back up your research, creative work, or whatever it is you do on your computer!)

3 comments on Blog Post #8

  1. As a first comment, I accidently became the person you are referring to on Steam when I contributed to a Black Justice fund on Humble Bumble and wound up with around 80 new games that I likely will never play…..but it was for a good cause so that is okay right? lol

    I also love the idea of a crowdsourced preservation project! Especially for something as widespread and in-depth as cataloguing and preserving an entire genre of media, the task can seem incredibly intimidating. Even if everyone participating isn’t an archivist or follow typical preservation protocol, any attempt at preservation will save so much more information than taking no action at all. That is so awesome that you are a part of a community working to do that!

  2. Thank you for telling us about your web novel on Tapas and for providing a real life reason for digital preservation. Although I am not on smackjeeves their closure will (hopefully) prompt users to save their work in several different places. I’m glad that the Internet Archive archived the Oregon Trail game – not only is it an excellent example of digital archiving and preservation at work, it is an excellent example of what late 20th century teachers were employing to demonstrate the trials of the trail. Owen’s point that preserving games is just as important as archiving a governor’s email cache.

  3. Yes! I resonated with the “hoarding is not preservation” comment. I’m totally guilty. It is so easy to create things and with the near limitless storage possibilities, things just grow bigger and more disorganized. I also like how you drew on the idea of that the internet is forever, and how that is misleading because much of it is there only due to archiving. Good point!

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