Using the archived to read the archive.

There is a delightful usefulness in the collections of the MITH vintage computer archive. The collection of computers and floppy discs adds an aspect to the archive of scholars having to not only preserve the physical machines, but also having to use those same machines to access the data contained on the floppy discs within the archive. The politic of this archival dichotomy is expressed by the passage “the complex relationship between the archive and memory is not confined to the forces/agents of the outside but inheres in the interior dynamics of the archive”. Without the preservation of the computer hardware the programmed memory discs become unreadable.

There is the potential for the MITH archive to develop into something truly expansive in large part due to the eventual obsolescence of computer technologies. As technology changes our methods of programming data do as well, not just in the form of storage mediums but also in programming methods. We must continue to work not only on the creation of newer and better computers and programs, but also on the preservation of the hardware and data we are continuously generating, lest the archives of our age go the way of the great library of Alexandria and become lost to the ages.

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3 thoughts on “Using the archived to read the archive.

  1. I really like your comparison of the archives to the Library of Alexandria! There is a wealth of information stored inside of those old computers that would be tragic to lose, much like the ancient knowledge stored in Egypt. It is tough to imagine what would happen if an entire generation’s work and knowledge was forgotten due to the emergence of new technologies. Your end point is well taken; we must continue to develop our new technologies in order to progress, while still preserving the data and information of the past. It is imperative that we preserve the machines because the technology is so outdated in some models and accessories that the only way to extract the information is via the original machine. There is somewhat of a dichotomy between preserving the past that has been rendered obsolete while emphasizing progress simultaneously. However, in order to learn from the past and to appreciate our progress, archives such as MITH are crucial informational tools.

  2. I agree with what both of you are saying, and the relation between the Library of Alexandria brings out the importance of the MITH vintage computer archive. The quote chosen to explain the politic of this archival dichotomy was the most important aspect I understood from MITH’s computer microprocessor- the fact that we not only need the hard drive to store information, but also a device that can read the hard drive.

    Both of you have agreed that it is important for us to preserve the past and have access to that information. And, both of you seem to agree that we need to reflect on how information was stored in the past to figure out how to store it in the future. No, we should not store our information like the Library of Alexandria. Yes, we should store our information in a way that can still be accessed long in the future, is that the MITH vintage computer archive?

  3. I agree that the MITH archive is very interesting and stands out against manuscript, periodical, and other written archives. The original poster pointed out that hardware and software advancements can lead to the need to archive the machine in order to read the information, and compared it to a library. To play devils advocate, are these specific documents important enough to keep around? In a way, the data represents many hours of labor and a generation in computing, but does the operating system for the osborne 1 or the commodore mean anything that someone will later want to access or learn from? To me, it seems like written works, artwork, and other forms of creativity should definitely be archived because it represents a time-period and ideas, but the computer files of obsolete systems seems to be more of an extension of nostalgia than to serve the purpose of saving information as it seems to be trying to do.

    I’m not trying to say that the archive is worthless or not cool, but more trying to see the differences between this stored information/hardware and the comparisons above, the library of Alexandria and ancient knowledge of Egypt, and the differences between this and more traditional archives of literature or art.

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