Futureproofing.org is the public incarnation of the Museum of Endangered Digital Media (MOEDM), a fledgling research project established by Cecilia Garside and Ian Mitchell of Liverpool School of Art & Design. The initial project identified that a particular type of pre internet interactive works of the 1990s have a limited profile within the permanent collections of contemporary Art and Design museums. In fact most are in danger of extinction due to our preoccupation with ongoing technical advances in digital hardware and software.
Many seminal interactive works of the 1990s were designed and made for standalone formats such as Hypercard, Director and Shockwave and can now only be experienced using obsolete computers, running antiquated operating systems. These works, such as BlindRom by Gerald Van Der Kaap and the works of Toshio Iwai and Antirom explored the language of a medium in its infancy and often helped to define many of the characteristics of current interactive media, whether it is a gallery installation or an iPhone interface.
The question being asked is whether it is sustainable for artists, designers, archivist and curators to hoard and maintain software and hardware resources so that future generations can experience these digital incunubula? Research suggests that alternative methods of preservation do exist, but that they are rarely perfect and have inherent weaknesses. For instance the possible use of OS emulators may compromise the authenticity of the work or experience. However there does appear to be a real desire that these works are not ‘lost’ and that, someone, somewhere is documenting this period of social digital history for future generations.
Futurproofing.org presents some of the preservation work already completed. It would also like you to participate in the project by posting your own comments about the subject and any memories you have of the work being discussed.