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Abstract

Hypertext poet Deena Larsen is worried about the potential loss of her digital poetry, but she has a plan to save it. In a 2004 article, “The Uncertain Fate of Scholarly Artifacts in a Digital Age,” Larsen revealed her plans for preserving her hypertext work Marble Springs. “Ms. Larsen started collecting old Macintosh computers so people will always be able to read Marble Springsin its original format. She has 100 computers in her two-bedroom apartment.” Although Larsen’s two-bedroom mausoleum of circa 1990s technology is one strategy for saving born-digital hypertext works, it is probably not the best. An armada of aging hardware will not protect digital objects from hard drive crashes, hardware failure, inoperable software, operating system malfunctions, unreadability, or natural disasters. Preservation of electronic records requires a commitment to active preservation practices including migration, refreshing, and integrity and authenticity checks of stored digital records. Maintaining the status quo, regardless of the magnitude of hardware and software stockpiles, is not a viable preservation strategy. The Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) notes the inadequacy of just holding onto digital materials and advocates more active digital preservation strategies in their latest publication, Born- Again Bits: “The stakes are even higher when we consider that keeping works of electronic literature alive in their original form does not serve all present needs, let alone those of the future.”

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