The Transfigurability of Digital Objects

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Due to the rise of the internet and digitality, an increasing degree of cultural heritage takes the form of ICT enabled operations contradicting the traditional practices of archives. Referring to these new forms as digital objects, the paper presents them as being transfigurable based on the dimensions of editability, interactivity, openness and distributedness and on the highly modular and granular texture of binary media and ICT processes. In other words, digital objects are technological operations rather than fixed entities. They are fluid, amorphous and ephemeral, rendered as momentary proxies of objects only. Within this context, a key challenge for cultural heritage institutions is the taming of digital objects. Juxtaposing two extreme examples – the search engine results page and the archival snap-shot of a web page – the paper will conclude with the argument that persistency does not come with the digital object, but needs to be imposed ex-post through second-order technologies which themselves are based on the paradigm of transfigurability. In other words, while the persistency of material objects has to be preserved, the persistency of digital objects has to be produced.
Udgave nummer10
Sider (fra-til)62-68
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - 2010
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Digital objects
  • Preservation
  • Archives
  • Persistency
  • Ephemera