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Preserving the Legacy of IT Innovation

Abstract : IT challenges museological conventions. There are issues of physical scale at both extremes – large mainframes on one hand and microscopic devices on the other. The social utility of collections is widely measured by public exhibition. But ‘Black-box’ syndrome is a nightmare for exhibition designers and content developers: in the case of computer cabinets and integrated circuits there is no transparency of function to speak of and this stresses established techniques of display and interpretation. Software poses a near-intractable challenge for traditional object-centred museums and it is unclear upon whom, and on what institution, custodial responsibility falls. The impermanence of storage media is incompatible with archaeological timescales. Whether software has meaning without the capability of running it is an open question. Yet running legacy software has formidable resource implications: the need for working historic machines or their physical surrogates, and/or expertise to migrate applications to contemporary platforms. We look to museums to preserve for posterity the material culture of these transformative technologies. There are formidable challenges. How are we to meet them?
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Doron Swade. Preserving the Legacy of IT Innovation. Leon Strous; Roger Johnson; David Alan Grier; Doron Swade. Unimagined Futures – ICT Opportunities and Challenges :, AICT-555, Springer International Publishing, pp.162-176, 2020, IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology, 978-3-030-64245-7. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-64246-4_13⟩. ⟨hal-03194541⟩



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