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Project "The Digital City Revives, A Case Study of Web Archaeology"

Presentation at the iPRES 2016, 13th International Conference on Digital Preservation. Bern, October 3-6, 2016
By Tjarda de Haan, guest e-curator & web archaeologist at the Amsterdam Museum

National Coalition Digital Preservation, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Old inhabitants, (ex) DDS employees and DDS affiliated web-archeologists, UvA Faculty of Science and Waag Society


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Project "The Digital City Revives, A Case Study of Web Archaeology"

  1. 1. Project "The Digital City Revives“ A Case Study of Web Archaeology Amsterdam Museum, Tjarda de Haan, guest e-curator & web archaeologist
  2. 2. Our goal: REconstruct and safeguard Amsterdam digital cultural heritage. Our challenge: Will we be able -together- to transform De Digitale Stad (The Digital City; DDS) from a virtual Atlantis into a virtual Pompeii? Project re:DDS
  3. 3. Wayback in Amsterdam in 1994… In the wild, wild cyberspace arose a virtual city from network cables, computers and modems… … De Digitale Stad - DDS - The Digital City Project re:DDS
  4. 4. What is De Digitale Stad - The Digital City (1994-2001)? • 1st (free) public domain virtual city in the world. • 1st Dutch online community. • 1st time internet (free) accessible to general public in the Netherlands. • Grounded by a fluid group: independent media, hackers and the municipality of Amsterdam. • Attracted international interest for the design: metaphor of a city to structure cyberspace. • Good for the cyberreputation of the city of Amsterdam: • CNN (1997): "For hundreds of years the city of Amsterdam has been a center of commercial trade, art and education. Now it’s helping point the way in the information revolution too ". • Manuel Castells (The Internet Galaxy, 2001): "The most famous citizen computer network. (…) A new form of public sphere combining local institutions, grassroots organisations, and computer networks in the development of cultural expression and civic participation". • Inhabitants (the users): 1994: 12.000 - 1997: 60.000 - 1998: 80.000 - 2000: 140.000. Project re:DDS
  5. 5. Treasury with born-digital heritage Project re:DDS • DDS is an important historical source about the early years of the Web in the Netherlands. • Culture: DDS is a digital environment, a virtual city with inhabitants, which brought forth objects, ideas and traditions. • Technology: DDS is a complex information system with different applications, through time. DDS is interactive, networked process-based and context-dependent (Perl, C, Bash, Javascript, HTML, SUN OS, SPARC): – 1994-1995: DDS 1.0 - telnet interface – 1994-1995: DDS 2.0 - website: static HTML – 1995-2001: DDS 3.0 - web system: static HTML and interactive web pages DDS 1.0 - 15 January 1994 DDS 3.0 - 10 June 1995 DDS 2.0 - 1 October 1994
  6. 6. Challenges of born-digital heritage: • Material: information is complex and transitive by nature. By rapid obsolescence of technology: missing hardware and software, lost documents and link rot. Dynamic character: doesn’t always reach final status and often not clear what belongs to the object. Ethical issues: regarding to privacy, copyright and licensing. • Methodes: there is a difference between web harvesting and web archaeology. Web harvesting is the equivalent of taking a photographic snapshot of an object, while we aim to recreate the object itself by digital excavating. • Division of tasks: who will take which responsibilities to reconstruct, preserve and retrieve born-digital heritage and make it accessible to the public? What we badly need is: o Web archaeological tools. o Central repository for tools: for example to read obsolete media. o Software library: who is archiving old software like Solaris, Windows, MacOs. o Sustainable e-depot and infrastructure. o Approach: no standards: given the urgency we can not wait. So just do it ... and trial and error! Project re:DDS 12/18
  7. 7. Out of the box, collection 2.0: • The museum has to cross boundaries, and get out of its comfort-zone to break new ground in dealing with digital heritage. To seek out new technologies, and new disciplines. • New areas: Different demands in acquiring and preservation of digitally created expressions of culture or physical objects. How to preserve digital objects that are interactive, networked, process-oriented and context-dependent and make DDS data 'future-proof' (via Open Archival Information System): • How to preserve (and represent) historical digital-born data: 'historical true' or a 'quick and dirty' (migration, conversion, emulation, virtualization)? • Process: Ingest digital objects - Store reliable - Manage data - Preserve for future - Maintain - Make accessible • E-culture: Data are the new clay, scripts are the new shovels and the web is the youngest layer of clay that we mine. Web archaeology is a new direction in e-culture in which we excavate relatively new (born-digital) material, that has only recently been lost, with relatively new (digital) tools. Both matter and methods to excavate and reconstruct our digital past are very young and still developing. Project re:DDS
  8. 8. Project re:DDS What do we do & where are we now? 1. Start: • Launch of Open History Lab and virtual museum. 2. Excavate: • Crowdsourcing (The Grave Diggers Party). • Collect stories and memories. 3. Process and make data accessible: • Development of web archaeologische tools (digital forensics and versioning control). • Apply the ‘Open Archival Information System’ and connect to national Digitale Infrastructuur. • Archive DDS data in e-depots. 4. Reconstruction and presentation: • Reconstruct original software and hardware. • Let the Bytes Free! 5. Finish: • Conclusions, evaluation, documentation, knowledge sharing.
  9. 9. What are we looking for? Archaeological remains of the city:: • Software - Interfaces (DDS 1,2,3 and 3.5), Freezes (1996 and DDS3). • Hardware - Shaman, Alibaba, Aladdin, etc. • Special projects - web: DDS Webmix, Metro, cafés, etc. • Special projects - hybrid: SMART TV, IjburgTV, Transparant Amsterdam, live.dds.nl, etc. • Individual houses and squares - Thisbe, Plein van de Dood, etc. Project re:DDS
  10. 10. Crowdsourcing the community  ‘Grave Diggers Party’ 1. Working space  The Archaeological Site re:DDS • Workstations: • Bring and upload your code. • Digg in the Wayback Machine and store excavations in Historical (e-)Depot. • Share your stories and memories in the Open History Lab re:DDS.nl. • Tools: • Computers: excavators. • Storage: buckets. • UNIX commands, mice: pades, pick-axe, trowels. • Scripts : metal detectors. • USB: find bags. • Metadata: find cards. 2. Museum space  Tourist Tours • /Lost+found: ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’: • Hardware: servers, terminals, modembanks, taperobots etc. • Screenshots of DDS. • Billboard’s: • What is DDS? Where are you? What is this site? Why this site? Project re:DDS
  11. 11. /lost+found: 4 TV broadcasts by Smart TV (each: 6 hours!) • Live from De Balie of the Amsterdam cable on January 15, 1994 the opening of DDS • With: Internet pioneers Rop Gonggrijp, Felipe Rodriquez and Marleen Stikker • Official opening by the deputy mayor of Amsterdam Frank de Grave. Project re:DDS
  12. 12. /lost+found: two public terminals, 1994 Project re:DDS
  13. 13. /lost+found: Cityscapes (interfaces) of De Digitale Stad • DDS first graphical interface designed by Walter van der Cruijsen in 1994. Never used online for DDS. • And first city logo. Project re:DDS
  14. 14. /lost+found: excavations in the museum Project re:DDS
  15. 15. /lost+found: De Digitale Stad newspaper, 1994 Project re:DDS
  16. 16. /lost+found: Flyer De Digitale Stad 3.0, 1995 Project re:DDS
  17. 17. /lost+found: Handbook Digital Cities, 1995 Project re:DDS
  18. 18. /lost+found: De Digitale Stedeling, 1996 Project re:DDS
  19. 19. /lost+found: Postcards DDS, 1998 Project re:DDS
  20. 20. /lost+found: mouse mat Project re:DDS
  21. 21. /lost+found: Blueprints of the Squares Project re:DDS
  22. 22. /lost+found: hardware Project re:DDS
  23. 23. /lost+found: FREEZE! Project re:DDS
  24. 24. Tools & methods 2015 /lost+found, working software: • Avatar generator, by students History of digital cultures, University of Amsterdam 2015. Project re:DDS Concept in 1995: •"We wanted to introduce the concept of a personalized avatar for “who is live”. No digital cameras or drawing programs. •"We needed something graphic to give people a kind of a unique identity on an impersonal Internet." •"We tried to create a form of 'place' and 'present' which was lost in transition in the new interface (from Bulletin Board to web version DDS3.0).
  25. 25. Tools & methods 2016 /lost+found, (almost) working software: • DDS1.0 by Michaël van Eeden. Project re:DDS
  26. 26. Tools & methods 2016 /lost+found, presentations & working software: • Students excavate and present theirs outcomings! Project re:DDS
  27. 27. Tools & methods 2016 /lost+found, presentations & working software: • Students excavate and present theirs outcomings on: o Privacy o DDS 3.0 – old code, new machines o DDS 4.0 – make-over with new technology Project re:DDS
  28. 28. Next level • From raw data to e-depot. How to preserve digital objects that are interactive, networked, process-oriented and context-dependent? o Ingest: How to read DDS data into an archive? o Archival Storage: Which archives are reliable for the DDS data? o Access: How can interested people get to the DDS data? o Data management: How should DDS data be managed? o Preservation planning: How remains DDS data accessible in the future? o Administration: Who takes care of the maintenance, and what does that look like? • How to present the DDS born-digital heritage in a museum context for future generations? Project re:DDS
  29. 29. Who likes a challenge?  Web archaeology: a multidisciplinary science Project re:DDS
  30. 30. Goals of the project ‘The Digital City revives’: • Reconstruct and preserve DDS; • Provide insight into the (existing and new) processes, techniques and methods for born- digital material and the context in which they are found, to excavate and reconstruct; • Raise awareness for the danger of ‘digital amnesia’; • To provide museums and organizations with specialized knowledge about the reconstruction of born-digital heritage and lower the threshold for future web archaeological projects. Disseminating knowledge in a DIY Handbook of Web Archaeology and ‘The 23 Things of Web Archaeology’; • Make DDS data 'future-proof' in making the digital cultural heritage: • Visible (content): promoting (re)use of DDS. • Usable (connection): improving (re)use of DDS collection by making it available by linking and enriching data. • Preservable (services): maintain DDS sustainable and keep it accessible. Project re:DDS
  31. 31. /lost+found: DDS in the museum! • First time webarchaeological excavations (born-digital heritage) are shown in Amsterdam Museum: the avatars! • Come and visit the museum and immortalise yourself... • To be continued! Project re:DDS
  32. 32. Thanks to: Our partners (till now): Amsterdam City Archives, Digital Heritage Netherlands, Dutch Cultural Coalition for Digital Durability, Joost Flint, Karin Spaink, independent researcher, Dutch Computer Heritage Foundation, International Institute of Social History, LIMA, National Coalition Digital Preservation, National Library of the Netherlands, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Old inhabitants, (ex) DDS employees and DDS affiliated web-archeologists, UvA Faculty of Science, Waag Society Visit: • http://www.dpconline.org/newsroom/latest-news/1777-qthe-digital-city-revivesq-a-case-study-of-web-archaeology • http://hart.amsterdammuseum.nl/re-dds • http://www.bitsandbytesunited.com/?portfolio=publication-the-reconstruction-of-the-digital-city-a-case-study-of-web-archaeology And: • Guidelines for the Preservating of Digital Heritage (March 2003). http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001300/130071e.pdf. • IIPC: Web Archives: The Future(s), by Eric T. Meyer, Arthur Thomas, Ralph Schroeder (2011, University of Oxford) http://netpreserve.org/events/Hague/Presentations/OII-IIPC.pdf. • Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage: UNESCO http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php- URL_ID=17721&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html. • WIR SIND HIER – Opening TOTAL RECALL – The Evolution of Memory http://www.aec.at/aeblog/en/2013/07/22/wir- sind-hier-opening-total-recall-the-evolution-of-memory/. • And more: http://www.delicious.com/re_dds/. Contact: • t.dehaan@amsterdammuseum.nl Project re:DDS