PRESERVING DIGITAL HISTORY

I found this article compelling as a History Teacher. How will we archive and then share digital media for future generations?

Space Invaders was the arcade video game of my youth. How exactly should the National Museum of American History preserve and display the game?  Obtaining code only serves true programming nerds.

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Displaying the iconic table you sat down at, or the stand up arcade shell? Not the same thing.  A video of the game? It defeats the experience of putting your quarter on the console declaring next game.

And so it continues… How will Call of Duty be archived and shared?  A video of the game is just a high tech cartoon.  Will the kids of 2056 understand gamer chairs and mic’d headsets if left in a static display?

Pac-Man is a particularly good example. In 2012, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired Pac-Man and 13 other video games, design curators wrestled with the exact challenge Reside describes. “It’s very different from when you acquire a poster or a chair, when what you see is what you get, and what you acquire is what you put in the gallery,” the curatorial assistant Kate Carmody told me at the time. “What exactly are you collecting? Are you collecting the software? Because then you need the hardware to collect it. Are you collecting the interaction? Because maybe a film of someone playing is the best way. Do you display the code?”
Kate Carmondy, in the Atlantic

When you walk through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame you see vinyl records and hear them… the connection isn’t a far reach.  The same us true with early instruments. But as the article points out, how to preserve and display the lighting of a Broadway show or a Prince Concert event.  Video shows us the result, but not the process. And that has been evolutionary and game changing.

It is a challenge for the next generation to bite into because Grandpa can chat you up Pacman but one day we will be ghosts fleeing around the screen.

– J.

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