(University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria)

Keywords: Digital Archaeology, Digital Humanities, Digital Sphere as Primary Source, Bridging the “Digital First” Divide

While Digital Tools are widely used in the digital Sciences and Humanities, the “Digital” as a sphere where purely digital artefacts and the context and “worlds” they exist in need to be experienced, recorded, reconstructed and reactivated for posterity is a minority view.With the digital sphere more and more seen as a territory, where purely digital artefacts can be created and also be stolen – with real-life criminal law repercussions – the question of preservation of those artefacts is paramount for digital archaeology and history.
Even using bridging technologies like (3d-)printing, a digital artefact can seldom be recreated in a physical form that closely resembles the digital. These “digital first” objects can best be recreated in a digital environment.
It only gets more complex if we think about whole digital spheres like Web-portals, Social Networks or – even more complex – Massive Multiplayer Online Games. The recreation process needs the emulation of the necessary hardware, the server-side software and (emulation of) the input devices. It further needs all the historical user interaction data with each other and the software. Only then can an artefact be adequately recreated and researched.
So what is the digital sphere we want to preserve and what infrastructure is needed for preservation?
This talk offers basic observations on the need for a definition, showcases approaches taken in preservation efforts (including some hacks by the different actors) and offers some ideas for an European digital preservation effort.
See also:

Relevance for the conference: Bridging the divide between digital artefacts and “physical” archives is paramount to the preservation of the history and artefacts of the first digital years.
Relevance for the session: Digital vs Analogue will more and more be the question one has to ask if one tries to preserve digital artefacts – some of which might only be preserved if preservation is approached from the “right” direction.
Innovation: Overview of approaches for preservation that work – most of them sadly by scientists from other fields or citizen scientists.
• Averett, Erin Walcek; Gordon, Jody Michael; Counts, Derek B. (2016): Mobilizing the past for a digital future. The potential of digital archaeology. Version 1.1 (updated November 5, 2016).
• Vogeler, Georg (2018): DHd 2018. Kritik der digitalen Vernunft : Konferenzabstracts : Universität zu Köln, 26. Februar bis 2. März 2018.