Archive for Preservation

Preserving Virtual Worlds

[News of new funded research I’m involved in. MGK]

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) is delighted to announce we are partnering with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Linden Lab (creators of Second Life) for a project funded by the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) on PRESERVING VIRTUAL WORLDS. The two-year $590,000 award under NDIIPP’s Preserving Creative America program will be shared among the project participants.

The researchers leading the work at the University of Maryland are NEIL FRAISTAT (Professor of English and Director, MITH), MATTHEW KIRSCHENBAUM (Associate Professor of English and Associate Director, MITH), and KARI KRAUS (Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies and English).

The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore methods for preserving digital games, interactive fiction, and shared realtime virtual spaces. Major activities will include developing basic standards for metadata and content representation and conducting a series of archiving case studies for early video games and electronic literature, as well as Second Life, the popular and influential multi-user online world. According to Fraistat, “This award from the Library of Congress places MITH and its partners at the forefront of those addressing a range of increasingly urgent questions involving the preservation of creative works that are “born digital”–from interactive electronic literature, to digital games, to virtual worlds such as Second Life. We are especially pleased to have as an industry partner, Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life itself.”

In addition to contributing to the work on Second Life, Maryland will take the lead on interactive fiction/electronic literature as a sub-domain of the project, and will be occupied with all aspects of scoping, metadata, intellectual property, evaluation, and archiving of these materials. We will initially focus on a small number of targeted works of recognized cultural and literary significance, including former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s 1984 interactive novel Mindwheel, Will Crowther’s ADVENTURE (written in 1975 and widely considered the earliest interactive text of its kind), and selected items from a large private collection of 1980s-era hardware and software recently gifted to MITH. The international Electronic Literature Organization will also extend its support and in kind contributions to our work here at Maryland.

The project begins in January 2008. Notice of other recent Preserving Creative America NDIIPP awards is available here:

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New Media and Social Memory

I will be out in Berkeley next week for this day-long symposium on New Media and Social Memory.

Unfortunately, however, I will still not get a chance to meet Stanford’s Henry Lowood, who despite being a games scholar, digital preservationist, fellow Kittler reader, and fellow wargamer I’ve yet to encounter f2f. (Henry, as it turns out, will be busy hosting John Unsworth, with whom I wrote my dissertation. Sigh.)

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