Welcome to the World of Tomorrow: Technology that should give archivists nightmares (or at least indigestion)

by Joshua Kitchens

Advances in technology should not be looked as so much as forward progress, but as a series  of more complicated things for use to preserve. This complicated reality that we as archivists will be facing. For just a moment, instead of considering the present or looking or backwards, let us look towards the bright and shiny tomorrow.

Quantum Computing

Quantum computing seems like a real thing. There were some doubts early on about whether or not the quantum computers that existed were real, but that sort of fits the whole definition of theoretical physics. Now it seems that qubits are the new bits. With Google and other tech companies leading the efforts to build machines that can calculate seemingly impossible things, and with speeds unheard of by today’s standards, say goodbye to simple 1’s and 0’s and hello to 1 and 0’s in superpositions and entangled, quantumly speaking. What kinds of records will these machines create? <Shrugs> It is impossible to know just yet, but they are coming, and we should be aware. Unfortunately, I doubt Al will be there to help us figure out where our leap into this new realm of computing has landed us.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Nothing quite gets my head spinning like thinking about how to deal with the inevitable virtual reality take over. While we may get to luxuriate in digital evergreen fields with elves, orcs, and cyberspace marines, I can only expect the enviable need to find a way to preserve these New Aged sprites, as I can only imagine that in the future a peace treaties will be worked out between a 7-foot-tall virtual anthropomorphic moose and an overly cute chibi panda. While further historians will debate the meaning of 🙂 in the third line of that treaty, we will need to understand the significant properties and other aspects that should be preserved and what could be said of the record qualities of these virtual spaces. What sorts of technological preservation will be required for these environments? Will we feel an overwhelming sense of dread as we appraise these records? Think about the headset graveyard!!! We should also consider augmented reality. Augmented reality poses a complex issue. What is the record, in this case: the Google Glass overlay onto the real world, or the data behind the overlay? I feel a bit like we are Morpheus searching for our Neo in this case. Will you be the One?

Video Games

In many respects, video games could be included in any discussion of virtual worlds, but for now, let’s take Mario head on, or shall we say feet first. Like virtual reality, video games are complex digital objects, but in addition to a game with systems for rendering pixels and dynamic worlds, there is usually a rabid and supporting fan base. These are primarily cultural spaces, sometimes based on game, like World of Warcraft and Eve Online, and sometimes existing through forums and twitter hashtags. These groups introduce new  language, like “ult” or ultimate. They debate issues going beyond the game environment. Problems range from ethics to Trans rights, to much more. So for video games, part of understanding  the complex record that is a game, is the various communities that have been created around them.

Blockchain

Blockchain is the new buzz word on the internet and business these days. What started out as principally a vehicle and system for recording transactions of a currency unfettered from governmental controls has blossomed into a buzzword fueled explosion of… well, I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that graphics cards are prohibitively expensive now, and Kodak has licensed its name to a bitcoin mining company. Kodak has also allowed its name to be used for a company that wants to use blockchains to help track image rights. This is quite a development. Some researchers, such as Hrvoje Stancic, are already thinking about the implications of blockchains for archives and information professionals. So get ready, you might need your hacker specs for this one.

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bloggERS! has gone fishin’

We’re off to SAA! Will you be there too? Check out our list of ERS-recommended sessions on Sched.

If you can’t make it this year, then follow along on Twitter with #SAA16!

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People fishing on Green Lake, circa 1950s. Item 31415, Ben Evans Recreation Program Collection (Record Series 5801-02), Seattle Municipal Archives

 

We’ll be back soon with recaps from recent conferences and plenty of other good stuff.

 

Caption These Bits! #3 – And the Winner Is…

Thanks to everyone for voting in our latest caption contest.

The winner is…

“Ahh yes, once I remove this key there will be NO ESCAPE!”

Submitted by Anthony D. Congrats, Anthony!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Caption These Bits! In the meantime: have any photos in your collection that might inspire good digi pres puns? Email us!
BostonPublicLibrary-11_07_003861Source: Grant, Spencer.  11_07_003861. 1978.  Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth,  http://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/sn00b1507

Vote for the Winner: Caption These Bits! #3

In the latest round of Caption These Bits!, we asked readers to submit captions for this image:

BostonPublicLibrary-11_07_003861

Source: Grant, Spencer.  11_07_003861. 1978.  Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth,  http://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/sn00b1507

Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas!

The BloggERS editorial team voted for the top three captions, and now we need your help choosing the winner. Cast your vote for your favorite caption by 7/15, and then we’ll announce the winner.

Caption These Bits! #3

It’s time for Caption These Bits! round three! You’re digital pun experts now, right?

Once a month, bloggERS invites readers to submit captions for images related to electronic records and the history of technology, sourced from archives around the world. Submit your caption below by 6/19. Digital archives, preservation, and curation humor encouraged.

We’ll choose three finalists and invite readers to vote for the winner.

Now that we’ve all mastered our born-digital workflows with last week’s blog post, we’re ready to tackle some light computer maintenance. So here’s this month’s image:

BostonPublicLibrary-11_07_003861Source: Grant, Spencer.  11_07_003861. 1978.  Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth,  http://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/sn00b1507

CAPTION THESE BITS!

Caption These Bits! #2 – And the Winner Is…

Thanks to everyone who cast a vote in our latest caption contest.

The winner is…

“More Peanuts, less process”

Submitted by Michael Stamberg. Congrats, Michael!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Caption These Bits!, and in the meantime, remember: MPLP, Charlie Brown.

CarletonCollegeArchivesSource: 20110615_2_Computer_Equipment_2/data/originals/9440 from Collection ID: 3 Sub-Series 1968/69 Folder .032, Carleton College Archives. https://apps.carleton.edu/campus/library/now/news/?story_id=641857

Vote for the Winner: Caption These Bits! #2

Last week, we asked readers to submit captions for this image:

CarletonCollegeArchivesSource: 20110615_2_Computer_Equipment_2/data/originals/9440 from Collection ID: 3 Sub-Series 1968/69 Folder .032, Carleton College Archives. https://apps.carleton.edu/campus/library/now/news/?story_id=641857

Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas!

The BloggERS editorial team voted for the top three captions, and now we need your help choosing the winner. Cast your vote for your favorite caption by 5/6, and then we’ll announce the winner.

Caption These Bits! #2

All right, y’all, polish those puns: it’s time for Caption These Bits! round two!

Once a month, bloggERS invites readers to submit captions for images related to electronic records and the history of technology, sourced from archives around the world. Submit your caption below by 4/22. Digital archives, preservation, and curation humor encouraged.

We’ll choose three finalists and invite readers to vote for the winner.

This month’s image:

CarletonCollegeArchivesSource: 20110615_2_Computer_Equipment_2/data/originals/9440 from Collection ID: 3 Sub-Series 1968/69 Folder .032, Carleton College Archives. https://apps.carleton.edu/campus/library/now/news/?story_id=641857

CAPTION THESE BITS!

Caption These Bits! And the Winner Is…

Thanks to everyone who cast a vote in our inaugural caption contest.

Digital drumroll, please! [0110010001110010011101010110110101110010011011110110110001101100]

The winner is:

“Reading from PowerPoint – boring that guy in the back since 1958.”

Submitted by Lora Davis, Assistant Professor and Collections Archivist in the University Libraries, Colgate University. Congrats, Lora!

Stay tuned for the next installment of Caption These Bits!, and in the meantime, remember, RAMAC is ready to answer your questions.

First_National_Bank_computer_demonstration(1)

Source: N09-033_a, Tracy O’Neal Photographic Collection, 1923-1975, Photographic Collection. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library. http://131.96.12.97/cdm/ref/collection/oneal/id/511 via DPLA: http://131.96.12.97/cdm/ref/collection/oneal/id/511

Vote for the Winner: Caption These Bits!

Last week, we kicked off BloggERS’s caption contest, Caption These Bits!, by asking readers to submit captions for our first image. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas–the witty electronic records humor out there is inspiring!

The BloggERS editorial team voted for the top three captions, and now we need your help choosing the winner. Cast your vote for your favorite caption by 3/23, and then we’ll announce the winner.

 

First_National_Bank_computer_demonstration(1)

Source: N09-033_a, Tracy O’Neal Photographic Collection, 1923-1975, Photographic Collection. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library. http://131.96.12.97/cdm/ref/collection/oneal/id/511 via DPLA: http://131.96.12.97/cdm/ref/collection/oneal/id/511