This roundtable, which unfolded over many months in 2021, brought fourteen technologists and scholars together for a full-fledged discussion of platforms and death as a metaphor. The discussion proceeds with each person responding to the previous question and then posing one of their own. Some contributors discuss the ethical quandaries that await researchers attempting to exhume digital lifeworlds of the past. Others contemplate who gets a say in what aspects of platform life are preserved. Reflecting moments of convergence and divergence around the ethics and politics of platform death, the roundtable reads as a kaleidoscope of sociotechnical values and a map of the people fighting for control over digital infrastructure that has fallen apart.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
For example, some of the work I’ve done at the intersection of architectural history and computer science focuses on the digital preservation of material culture: buildings, sites, ruins, artistic objects and artifacts. What I find revealing in this work are the power disparities between (predominantly) Euro-American institutions and the places from where data is captured. In the case of tangible heritage, what is often deemed “at-risk,” and therefore constitutes the majority of places from where data is collected, are areas of war and destruction in the greater Middle East, rather than areas impacted by climate change, natural disasters, or indigenous lands that are under documented or at risk of historical erasure. Global heritage organizations, like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), have the power to determine which geographical regions are prioritized for funding, which then dictates the digital preservation agenda of institutions vying for recognition and grants.
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- dead-and-dying platforms
- digital traces
- kill switches
- link rot
- platform death
- private firms
- social life