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Preserve, Archive, Disseminate

The only other session I caught at MEA last week was one of the plenaries, about the future of digital literature. Marjorie Luesebrink gave a brief talk as part of the plenary, and in it, she mentioned the efforts of the Electronic Literature Organization's PAD project.

Their first manifesto is now available, called Acid-Free Bits: Recommendations for Long-Lasting Electronic Literature, and it was written by Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Among their recommendations are writing for open systems instead of closed ones, working cross-system as best as possible, using valid code, etc. It's certainly worth a gander if you're involved with new media in any way. As Marjorie mentioned during her talk, we've already reached a point where some early examples of e-literature are becoming more and more difficult to view, due to proprietary systems, software/hardware versions, etc.


Excellent point about the proprietary systems. I realize you're talking about accessibility here (from the article you linked):

Those who use open systems and adhere to open standards when creating electronic literature have a much better chance that the format of their literary works will be supported, or decipherable, in the future. The small group of people in charge of a closed system or standard may lose interest and stop developing software, or the small group may change the system or standard without warning, so that older works of electronic literature no longer work on new platforms.

But--you know I have to bring IP into everything. :-) Your post made me think of Larry Lessig's "Free Culture" lecture at iLaw a little over a month ago. He showed Acrobat eBook Reader permissions (determined by the publishers) for Eliot's Middlemarch and Aristotle's Politics, and for Middlemarch they said:

You may copy 10 text selections to the clipboard every 10 days.

You may print 10 pages every 10 days.

You may use the Read Aloud button to listen to this book.

For Aristotle, the publisher was considerably less generous:

You may not copy any text selections to the clipboard.

You may not print any pages.

You may use the Read Aloud button to listen to this book.

Although translations are copyrightable, as in the case of Aristotle, both of these works are in the public domain, yet the architecture of the technology is inhibiting our use of these works.

Clancy, I think it's legit to bring IP into this, bc I think they're closely related. This may be a weakness on my part, but when I read IP or open source stuff, my own context for it tends to be present tense (what can I do with it *now*?). One of the issues that this raises for me is the question of what (or whether) we can do something with it in 10 years. Marjorie talked about Uncle Buddy's Fun House, an early ht written in HyperCard. Apple doesn't support HC anymore, but at the same time, they won't release it, and that makes this fairly early example of the genre almost inaccessible.

You may print 10 pages every 10 days? WTF?


Yep. Who came up with that, I wonder? Anyway, thanks for pointing out (to me, at least) yet another of the stakes of the DRM debate. I first became interested in the politics of archiving after reading Wendy Sharer's essay in Rhetorical Bodies titled "Disintegrating Bodies of Knowledge: Historical Material and Revisionary Histories of Rhetoric." If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

I've skimmed the collection, but don't remember whether or not I read the Sharer essay--thanks!

As I've been thinking about this, it connects for me as well with the recent disappearances of IA and Chun. Blogrolls are easy enough to fix, but permalinks buried amidst hundreds of archived entries? Not so much. And as more academics start blogging, even our mobility becomes an issue if we avail ourselves of the benefits of school servers (like I do)...