Archiving and Indexing Born-digitals


This case study, based mainly in the field of provenance research, focuses on exemplary digital estates and holdings, including the digital literary medium of the computer game and the digital estate of the media scholar Friedrich Kittler (1943–2011) at the DLA Marbach. With more than two million files totalling ca. 1.1 terabytes of data, the collection represents a paradigmatic digital storehouse of 20th- and early 21st-century works, with which new methods of research-oriented investigation of digital authorial estates can be developed and tested. The case study highlights the practices and reflection of digital writing, storage, collection, classification and analysis. We ask what is the constitution of digital collections? In what condition are they preserved? What points of convergence, what conflicts exist between media theory and digital practice? How can philological interventions be structured so that potential modifications are transparent in the historical material? The findings will be shared with other research groups, and unresolved issues will be further specified and expanded in discussions conducted there.

Questions such as these form the basis of research into Born-digitals, specifically computer games (as a form of digital literature in the holdings of the DLA). The DLA’s library has, as part of its collection remit, been collecting, indexing, and archiving computer games since 2019. The computer game collection is thus currently under development. Those holdings that have been indexed and archived to date can be identified via the DLA’s online catalogue Kallías. The (digital) availability and technical long-term archiving of the computer games for scholarly research will be developed in the context of a series of projects. The digital estate of Friedrich Kittler in the DLA will provide a paradigmatic basis for indexing and research into digital estates of writers.

The case study combines issues of theoretical-historical and praxeological relevance with processes applied in digital forensics. By using an actual, large-scale collection, the case study aims to sustainably advance the development of a growing and future-oriented area of international archives. The digital holdings and metadata will be made available to other researchers by means of a model VFR solution with guaranteed access on the Reliable Storage System.

Former Staff

  • Dîlan Canan Çakir
  • Alexander Holz
  • Dominik Wabersich