Hi all, my name is Brittany and this is my second semester in the MLS program at UMD, on track for Archives and Digital Curation. I really wanted to take this course because a) it’s the only course offered by the iSchool MLS program so far that deals specifically with the arts, and b) I was an Art History major as an undergrad and hope to one day work for an art museum in their library or archives, so I will most certainly be dealing with these issues at some point!
One of the main themes that stuck out to me in Re-collection was that the preservation of digital art has to become more dynamic because the materials and concepts of digital have become vastly complex and infinite in possibility. There is an enormous variety of technologies available now for artists to use and mash together. And because of the way technology developed to be user-friendly to non-programmers, the physical technology is separated from the logical presentation provided to the viewer. That is to say, When I’m typing away words in a Word document and saving it to my hard drive, I’m not seeing the tiny magnet moving across the disc to store my document in binary form. Instead I see my document as a “file” saved in a “folder,” which is a way of simulating the print environment we are familiar with, where papers would be filed away in folders. When you have these layers upon layers of technologies interacting with each other, and then on top of that you have a conceptually and materially complex artwork, it’s no wonder that preservationists are having such a hard time. The effort and thought processes necessary to preserve these digital artworks need to be multi-layered and dynamic.
One common thread between all of the readings was that the metadata stored with the artworks need to change for born-digital collections. The metadata standards, whether using MANS or a customized variation, need to be able to capture the different layers of that digital artwork. Not only the different technologies used, but the relationships between those technologies, the hardwares and the softwares, the cultural and aesthetic context, the blueprints for recreating the work, etc. Incorporating as much information as possible about the artwork into the metadata from the start will enable a more secure preservation future. However, I think it is important to note, as the NDSA points out, that most of this metadata should be computationally generated and not manually, because that would just be way too much work for our preservationists and catalogers, and the information overload would become a serious issue.