¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In the fourth chapter of Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence, titled “Preservation,” Dr. Fitzpatrick addresses a sort of anxiety about the future of texts produced in the age of networked publishing systems. This anxiety lies in underlying assumptions that printed books are tangible/material/durable while digital texts and data are insubstantial/ephemeral/fragile. Dr. Fitzpatrick dismantles this binary by highlighting the way in which printed material degrades and how recoverable data is.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 [In my current job at a conservation studio, I can attest to the fragility of paper (or any other material). Even acid-free can develop all sorts of unforeseen problems: accumulations of dirt, mold, salt, foxing (a sort of rust), etc. It can be really gross but also fascinating but I digress…]
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 I am very generally simplifying her nuanced disagreement with these assumptions about printed material and digital texts in order to get to a key difference, which Fitzpatrick explains, “has to do with our understandings of those forms” (123).
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Centuries of theory and practice have given way to a culture and infrastructure devoted to the preservation of printed material. Dr. Fitzpatrick argues that there now exists a need to quickly and carefully “develop practices appropriate to the preservation of our digital heritage” (123) that involves “collective insight and commitment of libraries, presses, scholars, and administrators” (125). One challenge in this age of digital production and the establishment of preservation practice(s) is due to the multiplicity of systems that host digital projects, which makes the task of developing unified theory difficult. Dr. Fitzpatrick argues that three preservation issues must be addressed: the development of commonly held standards for markup, the provision of appropriate metadata, and continued allowance of access.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 What was most compelling to me was the way that Dr. Fitzpatrick highlights the significance of social systems are in addressing these issues. In discussing standards, she highlights that open source software is supported by committed development communities. When discussing metadata, she argues that future classification systems should reflect both expert opinions as well as user experience. In the section on access, Dr. Fitzpatrick discusses two preservation programs, LOCKSS and Portico, with regard to their models of installation, collection, and distribution of material, and user experience.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Overall, this chapter demonstrates how productive a shift in focus can be. Certainly, issues of technique and best practices for digital preservation need to be considered, which Dr. Fitzpatrick discusses. At the same time, by calling for a shift in focus from the (im)material aspects of digital publications, which can fatalistic and reductive, to the social aspect of preservation. Establishing communities devoted to digital preservation beneficial to host institutions as well as a public good.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. “Preservation.” Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. New York: New York University Press, 2011. 121-154. Print.