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Ippolito at Future Proof symposium, 2017Reinterpretation as a preservation strategy has been called “radical” and “dangerous,” yet this unconventional approach has seen a surge of interest in preservation communities in the past year. In a departure from conventional wisdom about conservation, a group of European preservation experts recently invited Still Water’s Jon Ippolito to reassess this controversial technique as a mainstream model for conserving cultural heritage.
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future_proof_lima_logoInterpreting the past has long been the province of historians, but reinterpreting it has recently become a concern of conservators. This most powerful, and most controversial, of preservation strategies can demand techniques not found in the traditional conservation lab, from 3d scanning to DNA computing. Several international conferences from Mexico City to Amsterdam recently spotlighted Still Water’s ongoing research into reinterpretation as a means of prolonging or resuscitating the past.

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In 1994 artist Douglas Davis hit upon a surefire way to write a preposterously long sentence. He and his collaborators created a page on what was then a fledgling World Wide Web through which anyone could add words and phrases onto a growing string of HTML. Two decades later, it fell to digital conservator Ben Fino-Radin to restore this landmark of Internet art. He described the process–along with his work to recover the earliest Macintosh icons and manage digital collections at the Museum of Modern Art–in a teleconference this spring with students of the University of Maine’s Digital Curation program.

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International Handbook Museum MediaOnce dusty storehouses of antique patrimony, today museums are forced to re-imagine themselves for an age where culture is shared from smartphone to smartphone. Recent Still Water publications on reinventing museums for the 21st century are cropping up in anthologies like the International Handbook of Museum Studies and in interviews from The Library of Congress.

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Ludwig Museum Budapest

Ludwig Museum Budapest

In 2015 Re-collection: Art, New Media and Social Memory continued to gather attention from libraries, universities, and the press. This just-published MIT Press book by Richard Rinehart and Still Water Co-Director Jon Ippolito surveys new paradigms and techniques for safeguarding culture for future generations in the face of imminent technological obsolescence. Since last summer the tour included presentations in Aachen, Brussels, Budapest, Lewisburg, Oslo, Taiwan, and Toronto, as well as a webinar for the National Information Standards Organization.

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espenschied_dragan_dig_teleconfIf you’re over 30, chances are you’ve stumbled on a CD-ROM, game cartridge, or floppy disk in a box that you’d like to access but can’t, because you’ve long gotten rid of the hardware that went with it. Maybe you imagined your local library or museum has been stockpiling vintage Ataris and Mac 512s, but even they will be hard-pressed to keep obsolete hardware running in the long-term.

What if running those old programs were no harder than launching a Web browser? Last week Dragan Espenschied presented this option in a teleconference organized for students of the University of Maine’s Digital Curation graduate program.

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ZAK virtual reality labThe German town of Karlsruhe is no stranger to advanced technology, as home to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the ZKM Center for Art and Technology Karlsruhe. In his keynote for the November 2014 Digital Archiving conference at the ZAK Center for Digital Tradition (CODIGT), Still Water Co-Director Jon Ippolito presented advanced technologies as both the means for and object of novel preservation techniques. Emerging in Europe and the Americas, these new strategies harness everything from emulation to crowdsourcing to virtual reality.

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Digital Curation at the University of Maine

Good news for out-of-state and international students interested in the University of Maine’s online Digital Curation graduate program.

The University has extended its long-distance discount to students who enroll in the Certificate by this spring.

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Jon Ippolito in Mexico City, 2014Professionals across the spectrum of cultural heritage institutions are struggling to keep up with an increasingly digital landscape, as confirmed by the 30-odd contributions to Mexico’s first Symposium on Audiovisual and Digital Archiving (SIPAD). Today’s curators and conservators have their hands full coping with constantly changing video formats and Web standards, not to mention convincing legislators and administrators to support the enormous effort and time required to bring collections into the 21st century.

On the eve of Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead, a handful of presenters at this event organized by at the National Institute of Anthropology and History suggested that a solution for exhausted professionals may come from unexpected sources. In his concluding keynote for the week-long conference, Still Water co-director Jon Ippolito urged professionals to learn from the surprising successes of amateurs in rescuing artifacts that would otherwise have been lost to obsolescence.

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Digital Curation at the University of MaineAfter observing the impressive response to its fledgling Digital Curation program, which has already been called “a national standard for the study of digital curation,” the University of Maine has approved a special discount for out-of-state students. In-state tuition for our Digital Curation graduate certificate is one-third the cost of out-of-state tuition–and anyone who enrolls this month can qualify for this huge discount.

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