Hello everyone! I’m Pedro, a MLS student in my last semester on the Curation of Digital Assets track. I currently work at UMD Special Collections in Performing Arts as a project archivist. Before entering the iSchool I received a MA in musicology from UMD, studying music and the moving image (primarily in film and video games), and technology in popular music. My interest in this class stems primarily from my desire to learn how to manage the new types of artistic works created by digital media (an obvious answer, I suppose!) and my interest in the confluence of technology and creativity. Digital works fascinate me because each piece can be a unique challenge to an archivist in regards to understanding how it should be “framed.”
Of course, these types of boutique preservation jobs start to look just a tad indulgent when the backlog gets growing, and even the most dedicated custom jobs can’t always get things perfect. Fino-Radin had to make sacrifices when using open-source tools to preserve Legendary Account, such as the use of PNG screenshots since the tool created unstable PDF/As. These “good enough” solutions can get under the skin of folks in this field, so thankfully there are some other strategies out there to help. I like Paul Messier’s idea of preservation systems that provide general guidelines to (hopefully) deal with most of the preservation issues, allowing you more time to spend on the things that don’t fit the mold; however, I have no experience working with these systems so I can’t vouch for their usefulness. All my preservation work thus far has been the relatively straightforward process of transferring analog audio materials to digital formats.
Embedded curators can also help make a difference by working with individual artists and creative communities, showing them how best to preserve their works while simultaneously gaining a deeper appreciation of the works and their cultural context. I believe wholeheartedly in the notion of “archivist as community facilitator” and find these preemptive preservation strategies very appealing. Last semester I got a bit of experience with this in LBSC731 Special Collections when I created a collection development policy for a (imaginary) chiptunes repository. An issue with my policy was that I placed too much attention on the realization of a chiptune work (aka the actual sound) and not the programming. This meant that I ignored the technocratic aspects of early chiptune culture, the workmanship and one-upmanship that went into coding. Thankfully a member of that community looked over my first draft and corrected my glaring oversight! This was my crash course on preserving a realization (the thing presented to the viewer) vs. preserving the instructions for realization (the code, types of software used, etc.).