Speaker Series Announcement: Porter Olsen

"what falls out" lecture poster

Please join the Digital Humanities Initiative, the Digital History Lab, and the Mudd Manuscript Library as we co-host a public lecture that explores the intersection of technology and the humanities. Our speaker is Porter Olsen, who is a research faculty member at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) where he is the Community Lead on the BitCurator project, a Mellon funded project to bring digital forensics tools and techniques to collecting institutions working with born-digital material. Simultaneously, he is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at the University of Maryland studying digital humanities and postcolonial literature.

"What Falls Out: Preserving Our Digital Heritage with BitCurator"

Thursday, April 24 th , 4:30pm

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Lecture Overview

Unlike their paper counterparts, legacy digital media are increasingly inaccessible as the hardware and software needed to access the data they contain are lost to disrepair, obsolescence and bit rot. Like the leavings at the bottom of a drawer, these digital objects are frequently “what falls out” as we create, research, record and publish our digital work. Building on Matthew Kirschenbaum’s work in Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination, this talk explores the relationship between digital forensics and digital curation, and their combined importance to contemporary and future digital humanities scholarship. As objects of study in the humanities become increasingly born-digital, what steps can be taken now to ensure that the digital primary documents of today are both accessible and verifiable in the future? More importantly, how do we ensure that digital content is not that which falls out of our public consciousness and physical archives? This talk demonstrates some of the key digital forensics tools—compiled and enhanced by the BitCurator project—that can be used to aid in the preservation and recovery of the born-digital data essential to future and present digital humanities research.

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