L-95. Born-Digital Materials: Theory & Practice
This course will introduce students to the challenges of acquiring, processing, managing and providing access to the class of cultural heritage materials known as “born-digital.” Born-digital materials are those that began life on a computer, rather than as digitized surrogates of real-world artifacts. Contemporary collections of “papers” are often therefore hybrid collections, with disks, CDs, tapes, and sometimes entire computers commingling with more traditional kinds of archival content. Archivists now also preserve records created and stored in the cloud—including blogs, tweets, avatars, Facebook pages, and Google Docs. While this course will focus mainly on examples drawn from literature, popular culture, and the arts, the basic principles will be applicable to many other domains, including government, public policy, industry, science, and medicine.
The course is aimed primarily at archivists, manuscript curators, and others charged with managing this important new class of cultural record, as well as those scholars who might expect to make use of born-digital material in their research. Textual scholars and bibliographers are also a primary audience, as increasingly electronic books and electronic documents are critical elements of contemporary textual transmission. There will be significant emphasis on digital forensics, both its principles and application. Other topics to be covered include preservation metadata; data migration from obsolescent media; emulation; authenticating electronic records; appraisal; donor relationships; new challenges in scholarly communication; intellectual property and copyright law; the ethics of access to electronic records; Web archiving and the “cloud”; ebooks as archival objects; and case studies drawn from current work with electronic literary materials, computer games, and digital art. Above all, the class strives to make the case for the materiality of digital objects, and the richness and diversity of engagement they can inspire.
Participants are required to bring a laptop with them to class.
What this class is not ...
- Assessing and implementing digital repositories
- Step-by-step implementation instructions or recommendations for particular strategies
- Detailed review of all applicable metadata standards
- Dedicated media formats for audio or video
- Records management
- Budgeting or funding opportunities
- Technical details of migrating files or emulating environments
- Trouble shooting/problem solving for particulars of your collections
What we will do ...
- Provide an overview of the workflow from the first conversation with a donor to accession and patron access to get a sense of the issues involved in managing born digital personal archives
- Focus will be on managing personal papers/manuscripts rather than institutional records
- Introduce key concepts and vocabulary
- Review actual implementation strategies from leaders in the field
- Survey best practices as they now stand
- Discuss risks and complications associated with those best practices
- Introduce the field of computer forensics and discuss which aspects are and are not relevant to the archivist or cultural heritage specialist
- Incorporate examples that push limits and test assumptions
Matthew Kirschenbaum and Naomi Nelson teach this course for the first time.