Matthew Kirschenbaum: How Can We Preserve Software for Future Historians?

Roundup: Talking About History
tags: Slate, history, software, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Microsoft Word

Matthew Kirschenbaum is associate professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is currently completing a book titled Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing for Harvard University Press.

...[What is] software? Is it just the code, or is it also the shrink-wrapped artifact, complete with artwork, documentation, and “feelies,” extras like faux maps or letters that would become part of the play of a game? Is it the program or the operating system? What about the hardware? The firmware? What about controllers and other peripherals integral to the experience of a given piece of software? How to handle all the different versions and iterations of software? What about fan-generated add-ons like mods and macros? What about discussion boards and strategy guides and blogs and cheat sheets, all of which capture the lively communities around software?

More simply: What do we save, and how do we save it?...

Read entire article at Slate

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