In January the project team for Preserving and Sharing Born Digital and Hybrid Objects from and across the National Collection held an online symposium to launch some of the outputs generated through the research project. The event was aimed at museum, heritage and digital preservation professionals interested in understanding more about the implications of collecting complex digital artefacts. It offered the opportunity to share our research report and four case studies (which you can download from the project page).
The symposium featured interventions from the project team members and two external speakers. It kicked off with media scholar Joel McKim (Birkbeck University) providing context to the question of born-digital collections by exploring the term ‘digital dark age’ and the history of various forms of information decay. My own talk focused on novel understandings of the objects in reference to born-digital artefacts’ reliance on networks, infrastructures and communities of users. I contextualised these with a brief overview of the case studies, encompassing digital platforms, mobile apps, immersive media and digital film. BFI Head of Data Stephen McConnachie engaged more closely with one of the examples investigated within the project and case study, In the Eyes of the Animal, a piece of virtual reality by UK-based collective Marshmallow Laser Feast.
The second part of the symposium featured V&A curator Natalie Kane, who leads the project, discussing the legal challenges associated with collecting examples of digital design. This was followed by the responses of V&A Senior Curator of Design and Digital Corinna Gardner and scholar and curator Annet Dekker to the key findings and recommendations advanced by our report. Their talks emphasised the distributed nature of born-digital objects, the advantages of flexible and experimental approaches to collecting, and the need to rethink the concept of loss.
You can watch the symposium here: