Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
8 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Everything Else » Religion, Sex, and Politics

Subject: Historical Artifacts in a Digital Age rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Chad Harrison
United States
Cumming
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi all, my historiography class had to read and write an essay on an article by Roy Rosenweig called "The Uncertain Fate of Historical Artifacts in a Digital Age" for our final exam and I just wanted to share some of the stuff I gleaned from it.

Basically, historical artifacts that most historians rely on for their scholarship are no longer being saved in the same manner as before. Documents from the early 20th century existed in mostly paper format, and as we all know, it's difficult to get rid of a paper trail. However, in the later 20th century and today, almost everything is digitized. Memos are circulated by e-mail and the "paper trail" is now a few 1's and 0's in cyberspace. When polled, 80% of workers in the U.S. government admitted that they were unsure what they should be saving or deleting.

This process of saving and deleting represents an unparalled selection bias in digital archives that simply wasn't present in more traditional archives. For example, the author uses the old internet joke "Bert is Evil" as a poster child for this process. "Bert is Evil" was a long standing joke which pictured Bert from Sesame Street next to Hitler. After September 11th, a few enterprising web designers switched Hitler over to Bin Laden. When some protestors in Pakistan decided to make posters of Bin Laden showing their support for Bin Laden, they chose the picture, complete with Bert. Needless to say, the Children's Workshop, which produces the show, was less than thrilled. After threatening to sue, the host of the original "Bert is Evil" site pulled the plug. "Bert is Evil" disappeared from the internet consciousness.

Obviously, very few historians of the future are going to care about the "Bert is Evil" website itself, but the story is indicative of the larger problem. Would a historian 50 years from now be able to look back and really get a glimpse at what our lives were like? If (God forbid) BGG disappeared, would there be any repository of the knowledge that has been accumulated here for the historian interested in the "American Consciousness through Leisure Activities" as his thesis?

I thought the article raised a really interesting question; How do we save the past for the future when hardware and software change so rapidly, and it is so easy for things to just disappear into cyberspace? I hope you guys found it as interesting as I did!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gone C. Profile
msg tools
Avatar
capthairy wrote:
How do we save the past for the future

The plan, as I understand it, is to ensure that there is no future.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marc P
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Gloomhaven is a great niche game
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Of course, you're free to reveal the plan because this is all digital. Way to work within the rules.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
'Bernard Wingrave'
United States
Wyoming
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Here's a site that may be of use if you're looking for older versions of websites:

http://www.archive.org/index.php

It has versions of BoardGameGeek.com going back to 2000, as well as older versions of lots of websites.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
United States
Vancouver
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Ami. Geek.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't know, but I'm VERY sad to hear that the Bert is Evil site is gone.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chad Harrison
United States
Cumming
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Actually the author goes into a lot of detail about archive.org and its founder. Unfortunately it can only take snapshots of sights, so anything stored on a server and then linked isn't going to be saved. The original creators of the material can also request the archive delete everything it has from them. Imagine if Nixon's family could just remove the Watergate tapes from the National Archives and you'll see the problem.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Tagge
China
Guangzhou
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
capthairy wrote:
Imagine if Nixon's family could just remove the Watergate tapes from the National Archives and you'll see the problem.

Ooh, would RM Nixon rise from the dead? Or would the text printed in the Washington Post vanish as well.

Don't worry, there are still plenty of dead trees lying around and will be for quite some time. We are awash in information and keep better track of it nowadays. I am pretty sure that if the Constitution of the US were to finally disintegrate, we would still have plenty of copies.

Everything except cultural history is still in good shape.

PS you really wouldn't be interested in anything I would save as a government employee, not now, not in 1000 years, but it is all archived anyway.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chad Harrison
United States
Cumming
Georgia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
As a graduate history student I can tell you with certainty; some day some graduate history student will be interested in what you do. It's like the rule 34 of scholarly history.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.