Lost and Found in Cyberspace

There’s no question that certain things are lost when documents are prepared and transmitted in electronic formats. The texture, heft, even smell of the paper, the coffee cup’s stain, the crinkled edges and dog-eared pages, the physical abrasions of marks and erasures. Let’s think for a moment about what’s gained though. By opening my word processor’s Properties window I can ascertain, to the date- and millisecond, when the file was first created and when it was last edited. I can count the number of words and characters, but more interestingly the number of minutes spent editing the document. This is the kind of information scholars and editors of the literary classics would weep to have. How long was Coleridge really at work on “Kubla Kahn” before he was interrupted by the man from Porlock? The point here is that electronic objects are self-documenting to a remarkable degree, and this is a phenomenon that can and should be exploited as new social and technological practices evolve to preserve them. —Matthew KirschenbaumLost and Found in Cyberspace (MGK)

This man is insightful and rigorous in his observations about a technology that far too many people either take for granted or treat as “the enemy”.