Comma

Outside the margins and beyond the page: complex digital literature, the new horizon for acquisition, conservation, curation and research

Comma (2017), 2017, (1), 67–73.

Abstract

Some born-digital literary works are not simply large, static electronic files. Termed “complex digital literature,” these technology-dependant literary works require the author to adapt or re-engineer hardware or software as part of achieving an aesthetic. This, in turn, makes the works challenging for archives to acquire, preserve and make available to researchers. The article provides a brief history of the pioneers and evolution of digital literature. Informed by the lessons learned from past experiences with born-digital records, it also considers the archivist’s role in dealing with present and future complex digital literature – a role that requires balancing the familiar duties of acquiring, preserving and providing access to records with the delicate task of conveying their interactive nature and experiential facets. Much like authors of complex digital literary works who are drawing influences from different artistic disciplines, archivists can look beyond the archival community’s response to the digital era. The article concludes with a discussion of how professionals in complementary visual art and museology fields are pursuing the acquisition of art forms that rely heavily on innovative technology and what archivists might learn from their preservation-oriented approach.

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Details

Author details

Hobbs, Catherine

Viinalass-Smith, Sara