Archaeology of a Digitization / Bonnie Mak

Excellent article in the history of digital materialism, exploring the layers and effects of collection, curation and remix by exploring the deep history of a commonly-used library database, Early English Books Online (EEBO). This article is particularly relevant to projects considering the labor and implications of digitization and reformatting, and also serves as a model for unpacking the complexity that can lay behind a seemingly-simple single database interface.

“This study proposes an archaeology as a means of exploring the practices by which digitally encoded resources are generated, circulated, and received. The discussion grapples with the ambiguous relationship between digitizations and their exemplars in the well-known database, Early English Books Online (EEBO), and suggests ways in which digitizations might be analyzed as witnesses of current perceptions about the past and used accordingly in scholarly research. The article therefore offers a critical reading of EEBO and its digitizations as part of a broader effort to investigate the role of digitally encoded resources in the transmission of ideas and the production of cultural heritage.”

Mak, Bonnie. 2014. “Archaeology of a Digitization.” Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology 65 (8): 1515–26.