Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture (PDT&C)

Editor-in-Chief: Gibbons, Leisa / Gracy, Karen F.

CiteScore 2017: 0.02

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.106
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.015

Print + Online
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Archiving Digital Objects as Maintenance: Reading a Rosetta Machine

Patricia Kay Galloway
  • Corresponding author
  • School of Information, University of Texas at Austin, 1616 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78701 United States of America
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-04-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pdtc-2016-0024


Archiving digital objects consists of maintenance and conservation: the job of arresting a cultural object in time, maintaining it as closely as possible in the state in which it was created. Hardware and software provide the context in which digital objects are created, and other hardware and software provide the context in which they must be maintained, but practitioners of digital preservation are only now beginning to move seriously into the area of deciding how to perform digital objects for users. In this paper I discuss a personal effort at stopping time for hardware and what it has taught me about approaching construction of preservable platforms that can replicate the context of creation for digital objects. I will also discuss what we lose when we decide to discard environment in favor of some generalized idea of content.

Keywords: Archiving; Preservation; Digital Objects; Context of Creation


  • Blevis, Eli, and Erik Stolterman. “Ensoulment and Sustainable Interaction.” Proceedings of the International Association of Societies of Design Research, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, November 12–15, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Bogost, Ian. “Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers.” “Technology”, The Atlantic, 11/5/2015, accessed 8/25/2016 at http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/11/programmers-should-not-call-themselves-engineers/414271 (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Brooks, Frederick P. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1975.Google Scholar

  • Campbell-Kelly, Martin, and William Aspray. Computer: A History of the Information Machine, 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004.Google Scholar

  • Cerruzi, Paul E. A History of Modern Computing. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998.Google Scholar

  • Cunningham, Andrew. “A Brief History of USB, What It Replaced, and What Has Failed To Replace It.” “Gear & Gadgets”, Arstechnica, 8/17/2014, accessed 8/25/2016 at http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/08/a-brief-history-of-usb-what-it-replaced-and-what-has-failed-to-replace-it (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Dourish, Paul. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004.Google Scholar

  • Drucker, Johanna. “Performative Materiality and Theoretical Approaches to Interface,” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly 7.1 (2013). At http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/7/1/000143/000143.html (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Ensmenger, Nathan. The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010.Google Scholar

  • Gegenbauer, Silke, and Elaine M. Huang. “Inspiring the Design of Longer-Lived Electronics through an Understanding of Personal Attachment.” Proceedings of DIS 2012, 635–644. ACM.Google Scholar

  • Gruman, Galen. “Your PC Is Simply Another Mobile Device.” Smart User, Infoworld, 9/20/2016, accessed 9/20/2016.Google Scholar

  • Hallnäs, Lars, and Johan Redström. “Slow Technology–Designing for Reflection.” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 5.2 (2001): 161–91.Google Scholar

  • Haigh, Thomas. “Unexpected Connections, Powerful Precedents, and Big Questions: The Work of Michael S. Mahoney on the History of Computing,” in Thomas Haigh, ed. The Histories of Computing: Writings of Michael Sean Mahoney. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.Google Scholar

  • Kim, Sarah, Lorraine A. Dong, and Megan Durden. “Automated Batch Archival Processing: Preserving Arnold Wesker’s Digital Manuscripts.” Archival Issues 30.2 (2006): 91–106.Google Scholar

  • Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016.Google Scholar

  • Latour, Bruno, and Steve Woolgar. Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979.Google Scholar

  • Law, John. “On the Subject of the Object: Narrative, Technology, and Interpellation,” Configurations 8.1 (Winter 2000): 1–29.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Law, John. “Machinic Pleasures and Interpellations.” 2001. Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YN, UK, accessed 8/25/2016 at http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/papers/Law-Machinic-Pleasures-and-Interpellations.pdf (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Law, John. Aircraft Stories: Decentering the Object in Technoscience (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002).Google Scholar

  • Mahoney, Michael S. “Reading a Machine”, accessed 8/25/2016 at https://www.princeton.edu/˜hos/h398/readmach/modeltfr.html (accessed March 1, 2017).Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Moore, Charles W. “Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to Wallstreet PowerBooks,” accessed 8/25/2016 at http://lowendmac.com/2014/low-end-macs-compleat-guide-to-wallstreet-powerbooks (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Naur, Peter. “Programming As Theory Building,” Microprocessing and Microprogramming 15.5 (May 1985): 253–61.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Newitz, Anna Lee. “My Laptop,” in Sherry Turkle, ed. Evocative Objects: Things We Think With. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007, pp. 86–91.Google Scholar

  • Odom, William, James Pierce, Erik Stolterman, and Eli Blevis. “Understanding Why We Preserve Some Things and Discard Others in the Context of Interaction Design.” Proceedings of Computer-Human Interaction, Association for Computing Machinery, 2009, 1053–62.Google Scholar

  • Odom, William, Richard Banks, Abigail Durrant, David Kirk, and James Pierce. “Slow Technology: Critical Reflection and Future Directions.” DIS 2012 Workshop, Association for Computing Machinery.Google Scholar

  • Perez, Roi. “US GAO Finds Nukes Are Controlled by Computer from 1970’s,” SC Magazine UK, May 26, 2016, accessed 1/20/2017 at https://www.scmagazineuk.com/us-gao-finds-nukes-are-controlled-by-computers-from-1970s/article/530980/ (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Pickering, Andrew. The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency, and Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.Google Scholar

  • Piller, Charles. “Different Thinking–Except on Price,” Los Angeles Times, accessed 8/25/2016 at http://articles.latimes.com/print/1997/nov/17/business/fi-54720 (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Reside, Doug. “Rosetta Computers,” in Kirschenbaum, Matthew G., Richard Ovenden, and Gabriela Redwine, Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections. Washington, D. C.: CLIR, December 2010, p. 20.Google Scholar

  • Turkle, Sherry. “Personal Computers with Personal Meanings,” Chapter 5, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, 155–182. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005 (lst ed., 1984).Google Scholar

  • U. S. Government Accounting Office. GAO Report, GAO-16–468, “Information Technology: Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems.” Report available at http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/677454.pdf (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

  • Williams, Kimber. “Rushdie: Digital archive at Emory ‘allowed me to write’ memoir.” Emory Report, March 8, 2012. At http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/03/er_rushdie_digital_archives (accessed March 1, 2017).Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2017-04-28

Citation Information: Preservation, Digital Technology & Culture, Volume 46, Issue 1, Pages 7–16, ISSN (Online) 2195-2965, ISSN (Print) 2195-2957, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pdtc-2016-0024.

Export Citation

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in