Item Details

Fragile Storage, Digital Futures

Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2015)

Journal: Journal of Contemporary Archaeology

Subject Areas: Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jca.v2i1.27078


This essay argues for an alliance between media archaeology, the archaeological analysis of material culture, and the digital humanities. This alliance would be devoted towards understanding the materiality of hardware and the performativity of software, accounting for the past, present, and future of born-digital cultural artifacts that have no original medium beyond the computer. It claims that more attention needs to be given to the specific material conditions required to preserve and maintain digital storage, which is too often imagined as both ephemeral and everlasting. It provides a series of questions and provocations that would potentially be addressed by this alliance.

Author: Grant Bollmer

View Full Text

References :

Barad, K. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Boellstorff, T. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Chun, W. H. K. 2011. Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ebiri, B. 2014. “In an All-Digital Future, It’s the New Movies That Will Be in Trouble.” Vulture, 17 December. Available online:

Foucault, M. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge. Translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Pantheon Books.

Harrison, R. 2009. “Excavating Second Life: Cyber-Archaeologies, Heritage and Virtual Communities.” Journal of Material Culture 14(1): 7–106.

Huhtamo, E. 2013. Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kirschenbaum, M. G. 2008. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

____. R. Ovenden and G. Redwine. 2010. Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections. Washington, DC: Council on Library and Information Resources.

Kittler, F. A. 1990. Discourse Networks 1800/1900. Translated by M. Metteer with C. Cullens. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

____. 1999. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Translated by G. Winthrop-Young and M. Wutz. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

____. 2013. The Truth of the Technological World: Essays on the Genealogy of Presence. Translated by E. Butler. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Mauss, M. 1992 [1934]. “Techniques of the Body.” In Zone 6: Incorporations, edited by J. Crary and S. Kwinter, 455–477. New York: Zone Books.

Parikka, J. 2012. What is Media Archaeology? Cambridge: Polity.

Winthrop-Young, G. 2013. “Cultural Techniques: Preliminary Remarks.” Theory, Culture & Society 30(6): 3–19.

Zielinski, S. 1996. “Media Archaeology.” CTheory ga111. Available online: