Lit 80, Fall 2013
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Media archeology reflection

October 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Sai Cheemalapati in Uncategorized

Our discussion with Jussi Parrika brought up a lot of interesting points.

For example, I liked hearing that media archeologists do attempt to understand modern technologies and what goes behind them. As someone obsessed with computer science, I spend a lot of time understanding about implementation and very little time thinking about implementation. Parrika brought up data centers in the talk and mentioned that data was a physical object held there  and that data centers have a physical footprint in energy usage. The idea of real physical data was something I knew to be inherently true but not something I had ever thought about. The science behind data centers is fascinating – more than a decade of research has gone into methods of traversing and utilizing large amounts of data in a useful manner [1], and due to the way those methods must be implemented – server farms generate enormous amounts of heat that have to be vented and cooled with systems that require hundreds of kW of energy to power. In fact, data centers used as much as 1% of the worlds electricity output [2].

Another interesting point described was that of replicating an old document using the same printing techniques from the time period. They had to source the materials for the ink, paper, and use the correct press in order to make a reasonable facsimile. The purpose was to understand more closely the document in the context of it’s creation – the differences and difficulties involved in it. In order to get a complete picture on an object we need more than just the words on paper – but the historical context behind it including it’s creation. The idea was interesting and certainly fulfills the ‘media archeology’ aspect.

I think media archeology is an important and interesting field of study. Like I said I often think about implementation and not implication – and it’s definitely useful to see the physical and cultural impact of media elements and technology as a whole. Doing so helps to understand the modern world more – and offers new challenges to how we will preserve the wealth of information being produced every day (Google alone processes more than 20,000 terabytes of data per day) for future generations [3].

As far as our class is concerned, media archeology is certainly relevant and is applicable to books we just read like “Neuromancer” and “The Difference Engine.” Both books offer alternate histories built on developing technologies and suggest cultural and physical impacts resulting from the use of the technologies presented. The video game preservation project was also a perfect example of media archeology in the works.

[1] http://hadoop.apache.org/

[2] http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/3/3/034008/

[3] http://wikibon.org/blog/big-data-statistics/

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