Log in

A.R.T. Book Club Meeting: Matthew Kirschenbaum's "Mechanisms"

  • Wednesday, April 30, 2014
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • METRO, 57 E. 11th St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003
A.R.T. Book Club Announcement

Please join us for a gathering of the A.R.T. Book Club co-sponsored by A.R.T. and METRO. The group will convene on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 6pm at METRO for an informal discussion of Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (MIT Press, 2008). We ask that all participants commit to reading the book and come prepared with one or two questions for group discussion.

Event Details:

Location: METRO, 57 E. 11th St., 4th Floor, NYC

Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
: 6-8pm

Participants to the Book Club will be capped at 20 and discussion will take place in two groups of 10. The group is kept small to encourage discussion among all attendees.

All attendees will receive one used 5.25” floppy disk.

If you are interested in attending, please email us to save a spot:discussions@nycarchivists.org.

Book Details:

Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination

by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
MIT Press, 2008


From Your Hosts:

The challenges of born-digital materials are familiar to many archivists. While born-digital materials have many affordances -- ease of duplication and dissemination, ability to be queried and analyzed computationally -- they also pose many obstacles to longevity, such as obsolescence, authenticity issues, and hardware and software dependencies. Because many of these challenges are not specific just to the practices of historical preservation, born-digital archival materials have proven to be a subject particularly friendly to an interdisciplinary mix of theory and practice. Disciplines like media archaeology, electronic literature studies, and digital forensics have all contributed to the ongoing evolution of processes and thinking around collecting, preserving, and making available born-digital materials.

Matt Kirschenbaum is a key figure at the intersection of new media, digital humanities, archives, and preservation. As Associate Director at Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), co-PI on the Bitcurator project, and frequent speaker and writer on digital forensics and born-digital archives, Kirschenbaum has shown an unparalleled sensitivity to the issues archivists face in dealing with digital collections and is a model of the interdisciplinary collaboration vital to the ongoing development of tools and practice in preserving digital content. In Mechanisms, Kirschenbaum explores the qualities, both material and conceptual, of storage hardware within a critical model "encompassing both screen-level text and machine-level instructions" while remaining cognizant of hardware’s impact on the accessibility and preservation of digital materials. Lest the reader think this new media approach strays too far afield from archival practice, Mechanisms examines not just how digital records are created, stored, and but also how they are interpreted, manipulated, understood, and maintained through time -- topics vital to the archival enterprise. With use cases featuring both bit-level analysis and study of the broader social and cultural networks of dissemination, Mechanisms is a trenchant text that should incite a spirited discussion on the promise and perils that born-digital materials hold for established archival practices and theory.

Other works by and about Matt Kirschenbaum, which may be of interest to ART members:

Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections (co-author)


From Bitstreams to Heritage: Putting Digital Forensics into Practice in Collecting Institutions (co-author)


The .txtual Condition: Digital Humanities, Born-Digital Archives, and the Future Literary


What’s a Nice English Professor Like You Doing in a Place Like This: An Interview With Matthew Kirschenbaum


A review ofMechanisms is available in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Volume 3 Number 2, 2009.



The A.R.T. Discussion Group series is a periodic gathering of A.R.T. members to discuss issues of professional interest. All A.R.T members are welcome.

The meetings are intended to create a space where archivists may engage in focused, informal conversation around specific problems derived from archival work, exploring strategies from everyday practice. Participants come away with fresh approaches to practical challenges. The size of each group is kept small to encourage all attendees to participate. When noted, sessions are designed for archivists at similar levels of experience.

A.R.T. members themselves suggest and coordinate the discussion groups. In order for the program to thrive and meet the needs of A.R.T. members, we need to hear from you! Please send in your ideas for future discussion topics. Or, even better, if you would like to lead a discussion, let us know. Send comments, questions and suggestions to discussions@nycarchivists.org.

Questions? communications@nycarchivists.org

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software