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Digital Materiality and “the thingness of things”

After last week’s discussion with Matthew Kirschenbaum, I have been thinking more and more bout “the thingness of things” and the physical medium needed to store and convey digital text for information transmission. If necessary, could I retrieve the 79.75 kb of data from an eight inch floppy disk from 1971?  Would I need a vintage computer? After I pull the data up on an old screen, I’d have to photograph it with my iPhone and then email it to myself. It is a whole new way of looking at preservation of text because holding a disk in your hand and prying it apart or scraping it like a humanist/manuscript hunter would old ink on the vellum of a palimpset could not work.  Is the survival of digital material remains that tenuous if we continue to view computers as immaterial objects as Kirschenbaum suggests? Perhaps yes.  After much searching for a resource related to digital materiality online, I came across a repository at the NYU Library called The Afghanistan Digital Library that is digitizing Afghan publications from the period 1871 to 1930 – a needed project since many Afghan works are in danger of disappearing at a very rapid rate.  However, as of yet, the the digital library does not address the creation of a repository on preserving that which is already digitized: http://afghanistandl.nyu.edu/

 

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