Events

Dissertation Defense: Ed Summers

Event Start Date:
Friday, November 06, 2020 - 10:00 AM
Event End Date:
Friday, November 06, 2020 - 12:00 PM
Add to Calendar 2020-11-06 10:00:00 2020-11-06 12:00:00 Dissertation Defense: Ed Summers Please join us for Ed Summers's doctoral dissertation defense! Date: Friday, November 6, 2020Time: 10:00 AM Eastern time  Title:  Legibility Machines: Archival Appraisal and the Genealogies of Use  Abstract:  The web is a site of constant breakdown in the form of broken links, failed business models, unsustainable infrastructure, obsolescence and general neglect. Some estimate that about a quarter of all links break every 7 years, and even within highly curated regions of the web, such as scholarly publishing, rates of link rot can be as high as 50%. Over the past twenty years web archiving projects at cultural heritage organizations have worked to stem this tide of loss. Yet, we still understand little about the diversity of actors involved in web archiving, and how content is selected for web archives. This is due in large part to the ontological politics of web archives, and how the practice of archiving the web takes place out of sight at the boundaries between human and technical activity. This dissertation explores appraisal practices in web archives in order to answer two motivating research questions: 1) How is appraisal currently being enacted in web archives? 2) How do definitions of what constitutes a web archive shape the practice of appraisal? In order to answer these questions data was collected from interviews with practicing professionals in web archives, and from a year long ethnographic field study with a large federally funded archive. Method triangulation using thematic analysis, critical discourse analysis and grounded theory generated a thick and layered description of archival practice. The results of this analysis highlight three fundamental characteristics of appraisal in web archives: time, ontology and use. The research findings suggest that as expressions of value, appraisal decisions do not simply occur at discrete moments in the life cycle of records. They are instead part of a diverse set of archival processes that repeat and evolve over time. Appraisal in web archives is not bound by a predefined assemblage of actors, technologies and practices. Indeed, artificially limiting our definition of what constitutes a web archive truncates our understanding of how appraisal functions in web archives. Finally, the valuation of web records is inextricably tied to their use in legibility projects, where use is not singular, but part of a genealogy of use, disuse and misuse. Appraising appraisal along these three axes of time, ontology and use provides insight into the web-memory practices that condition our understanding of the past, and that also work to create our collective present and futures. Explicitly linking appraisal to the many forms of use informs archival studies pedagogy, by establishing the value of records in terms of the processes they participate in, rather than as a static attribute of the records or their immediate context. As machines increasingly become users of web archives the stakes for understanding the values present in web archival platforms could not be higher. Committee: Dr. Ricardo L. Punzalan, Chair Dr. Katrina Fenlon Dr. Kari Kraus Dr. Wayne G. Lutters Dr. Matthew Kirschenbaum, Dean’s Representative Join Zoom Meetinghttps://umd.zoom.us/j/5044337419 Meeting ID: 504 433 7419 One tap mobile +19294362866,,5044337419# US (New York) +13017158592,,5044337419# US (Germantown) Dial by your location         +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)         +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)         +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)         +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)         +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)         +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) Meeting ID: 504 433 7419 Find your local number: https://umd.zoom.us/u/acOM6sOOck Join by SIP5044337419@zoomcrc.com Join by H.323 162.255.37.11 (US West) 162.255.36.11 (US East) 115.114.131.7 (India Mumbai) 115.114.115.7 (India Hyderabad) 213.19.144.110 (Amsterdam Netherlands) 213.244.140.110 (Germany) 103.122.166.55 (Australia) 149.137.40.110 (Singapore) 64.211.144.160 (Brazil) 69.174.57.160 (Canada) 207.226.132.110 (Japan) Meeting ID: 504 433 7419 America/New_York public

Please join us for Ed Summers's doctoral dissertation defense!

Date: Friday, November 6, 2020
Time: 10:00 AM Eastern time 

Title
Legibility Machines: Archival Appraisal and the Genealogies of Use 

Abstract
The web is a site of constant breakdown in the form of broken links, failed business models, unsustainable infrastructure, obsolescence and general neglect. Some estimate that about a quarter of all links break every 7 years, and even within highly curated regions of the web, such as scholarly publishing, rates of link rot can be as high as 50%. Over the past twenty years web archiving projects at cultural heritage organizations have worked to stem this tide of loss. Yet, we still understand little about the diversity of actors involved in web archiving, and how content is selected for web archives. This is due in large part to the ontological politics of web archives, and how the practice of archiving the web takes place out of sight at the boundaries between human and technical activity.

This dissertation explores appraisal practices in web archives in order to answer two motivating research questions: 1) How is appraisal currently being enacted in web archives? 2) How do definitions of what constitutes a web archive shape the practice of appraisal? In order to answer these questions data was collected from interviews with practicing professionals in web archives, and from a year long ethnographic field study with a large federally funded archive. Method triangulation using thematic analysis, critical discourse analysis and grounded theory generated a thick and layered description of archival practice. The results of this analysis highlight three fundamental characteristics of appraisal in web archives: time, ontology and use.

The research findings suggest that as expressions of value, appraisal decisions do not simply occur at discrete moments in the life cycle of records. They are instead part of a diverse set of archival processes that repeat and evolve over time. Appraisal in web archives is not bound by a predefined assemblage of actors, technologies and practices. Indeed, artificially limiting our definition of what constitutes a web archive truncates our understanding of how appraisal functions in web archives. Finally, the valuation of web records is inextricably tied to their use in legibility projects, where use is not singular, but part of a genealogy of use, disuse and misuse.

Appraising appraisal along these three axes of time, ontology and use provides insight into the web-memory practices that condition our understanding of the past, and that also work to create our collective present and futures. Explicitly linking appraisal to the many forms of use informs archival studies pedagogy, by establishing the value of records in terms of the processes they participate in, rather than as a static attribute of the records or their immediate context. As machines increasingly become users of web archives the stakes for understanding the values present in web archival platforms could not be higher.

Committee:
Dr. Ricardo L. Punzalan, Chair
Dr. Katrina Fenlon
Dr. Kari Kraus
Dr. Wayne G. Lutters
Dr. Matthew Kirschenbaum, Dean’s Representative

Join Zoom Meeting
https://umd.zoom.us/j/5044337419

Meeting ID: 504 433 7419
One tap mobile
+19294362866,,5044337419# US (New York)
+13017158592,,5044337419# US (Germantown)

Dial by your location
        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 504 433 7419
Find your local number: https://umd.zoom.us/u/acOM6sOOck

Join by SIP
5044337419@zoomcrc.com

Join by H.323
162.255.37.11 (US West)
162.255.36.11 (US East)
115.114.131.7 (India Mumbai)
115.114.115.7 (India Hyderabad)
213.19.144.110 (Amsterdam Netherlands)
213.244.140.110 (Germany)
103.122.166.55 (Australia)
149.137.40.110 (Singapore)
64.211.144.160 (Brazil)
69.174.57.160 (Canada)
207.226.132.110 (Japan)
Meeting ID: 504 433 7419