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The Persistence Project: What It Was, How It Went

The title’s a little misleading, I suppose, but it’s accurate for me — my part in the Persistence Project has come to a close. Hopefully it’ll do as its name suggests, and persist into next year and beyond.

Basically, the Persistence Project was an effort to think critically about how digital projects at Carleton are structured while live and archived long-term. Live projects aren’t often made with their archival practices in mind (why think about the future when you can think about the now), and unlike books or papers, it’s often hard to determine what the archivable components of a live project are.

I mean, if you think about it, a digital project can be interactive; it can be reactive; it can, and often is, structured through hyperlinks. These affordances don’t translate well to having a single, stable work in the archives. And technology marches on. What’s cutting edge now may very well be outdated in five years, and it may not even be capable of running in ten. Assuming, of course, that your links don’t break and your sources don’t move and your hosting service doesn’t fold and your servers don’t crash and your data isn’t lost…

So the early stages of the Persistence Project — my particular role — was to succinctly explain these dangers in a way that even people who aren’t tech-oriented can understand, and to provide advice. Digital projects are great! They can lead to amazing ways of demonstrating information or engaging audiences, and no one should be scared of them just because they’re scared of how to manage their project’s longevity.

The end result of my work was a PDF, emailable and transmittable, which can be shared with Carleton professors (and maybe even beyond) even after I’m gone. I won’t transcribe the whole thing here. Just click through to the attached document, and enjoy.

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