Since the 1970s, the definition analog or analogue developed out of interests in digital technology instead of the actual engineering itself. It’s grown to refer to a condition based on the cultural reaction to digital technologies rather than its technocultural relationship to nature. This, in turn, has resulted in a popular novel concept that analog is everything not digital. Jonathon Sterne, an expert in media and cultural studies, reveals why branding analog to compose of all things not-digital is a dangerous road to trot.
Broadening the reach of what falls under analog prevents proper attention going into the various histories and purposes involved. Just discussing an analog-digital relationship without breaking down the influential histories does not illustrate how the definition of that relationship was formed. How the term analog changes over time are very similar to TAGOKOR’s journey to NARA.
Though TAGOKOR’s histories may slightly differ from defining objects as analog or digital, the influence of periodic variables matters in shaping purpose. Sterne and Bailey illustrate in their work how cultural conditions and histories mold how digital objects are defined and why it matters. Why should we care what is considered a digital system and if the definition evolves over time due to more progressive forms of information sharing and preservation?
Although Sterne offers more word of caution in his article, it’s safe to say Bailey’s study of the custodial and cultural histories of TAGOKOR is also a warning to the readers. His attention to the many agencies and transfers of TAGOKOR draws attention to the stages and reconstituting of records before they are made available to the public. By the time the records are published, they are so far removed from the original piece due to so many interferences and set purposes. Eventually, there are two histories of the digital records, “elision and elaboration- a history separate from the literal preservation of the bit sequence itself.” Whether it’s the crowded process of publishing digital record systems from the Korean war or establishing what is considered analog, it’s apparent that there are several factors in play that determine what defines their history.