Archiving Writers' Work in the Age of E-Mail
An interesting article on new issues arising from the increasingly digital artifacts of writers.
"'Once we learned how to preserve paper, we were good,' says Naomi L. Nelson, interim director of the manuscript, archives, and rare-book library at Emory University's Robert W. Woodruff Library. 'That really hasn't changed a lot. With computers it's a whole different ballgame.'"
In addition the article touches on some interesting areas of intellectual property (or the uncertainty of it):
"Information that lives inside a writer's personal hardware — like the data on Mr. Updike's floppy disks or Mr. Rushdie's hard drives — may not have physical dimensions, but it is at least attached to a single device that is owned by somebody. 'It's physically here,' says Mr. Kirschenbaum, gesturing toward a shelf of Apple Classic computers, donated to the Maryland institute by the poet Deena Larsen. 'I can wrap my arms around it.'
Not so with e-mail and social-media content. These are not programs run on individual computers; they are Web-based services, hosted remotely by companies like Facebook and Google. The content exists in an ethereal mass of data known in information-technology circles as 'the cloud.' There, Mr. Kirschenbaum says, 'you get into this wilderness of competing terms of service.'
With more and more information being stored on the Web, it is no longer clear who owns what."