Henry Lowood's blog

Stanford University Libraries acquire MUD1 source code

The Stanford University Libraries have acquired the source code files for the first on-line virtual world, MUD1.  
 
MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) was created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw in 1978 at the University of Essex. It was a text-based multi-user environment inspired by and loosely based on then recent text adventures such as The Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork.  MUD remained in continuous existence for over twenty years and also spawned a variety of other MUDS, related classes of games such as MOOs (Multi-User Dungeon, Object-Oriented), as well as 2D and 3D game and virtual worlds. It is still possible to play a version of the game today via the British Legends collection.
 
The donation of the source code files follows an earlier donation in 2004 of Dr. Bartle's papers related to MUD1, which areavailable for research in the Department of Special Collections at Stanford.  With the generous permission of Mr. Trubshaw and Dr. Bartle as the copyright-holders for MUD-1, Stanford will be allowed to provide on-line access to the MUD1 source code files - details will be forthcoming.

Project archivist position in the Silicon Valley Archives: Papers of Gordon Moore

 
If you are interested in an opportunity as a project archivist in the Silicon Valley Archives, please visit stanfordcareers.stanford.edu and search for position 61637.  You can apply for the position from there.
Processing Archivist, Gordon Moore Papers, Stanford University Libraries, 61637. 
Description
 
Stanford University, Department of Special Collections -- Manuscripts
Title: Project Archivist, Gordon Moore papers
JCC: Associate Librarian (3P2), 100% FTE; 1-year, fixed-term appointment
Reports to: Head, Technical Services--Manuscripts
 
The Moore Project Archivist is responsible for reviewing current organization and metadata for the Gordon Moore papers (approximately 150 linear feet of manuscript and audio-visual material). The incumbent will be responsible for recommending access and delivery strategies based on privacy and preservation and copyright issues. The archivist will organize and describe the papers while also reviewing and screening for sensitive and restricted material. The archivist will work closely with the Head of Technical Services/Special Collections and the Curator for the History of Science & Technology, and on an as needed basis, with the donor or representatives (Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), the Chemical Heritage Foundation or Intel Corporation.
 
Duties:
 
MANAGE: The Project Archivist is responsible for the appraisal, arrangement and description (cataloging) of all formats of material in the collection - through a variety of programs, as well as publication and dissemination. Materials in these collections range from paper-based (photographs, notebooks, papers, meeting notes, correspondence, oversize materials, etc.) to audio, video, computer media, and digital files.

IMLS Awards Three-Year Grant to Stanford-UCSC Project on Game Metadata and Citation

The Institute for Museum and Library Services announced its September 2013 grant awards yesterday.  You can read the announcement here.  I am very pleased that the IMLS awarded a three-year National Leadership Grant for Libraries to a project called, "From Descriptive Metadata to Citation: Building a Framework for Search and Communication in Game Studies" that will be carried out by a team from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Stanford.  
 
This project continues the close collaboration between these teams that began earlier this year with a Digital Humanities Startup grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a methodology for archiving software development, with a focus on the special archival and documentation requirements for software developed in universities and other research-centered institutions. 
 
The IMLS-funded  project will be a major activity of the How They Got Game project over the next three years, in close collaboration with the lead team led by Noah Wardrip-Fruin at UCSC.  In a nutshell, the project will deliver a metadata scheme for digital game software, including ontology and terminology, in the first two years.  Year three will focus on related scholarly apparatus, especially citation (including citation of in-game events).  Obviously, this will be an ambitious undertaking, but it is also a necessary one for a whole host of activities from game acquisition and preservation, through discovery and access and on to scholarly use.
 
Here are the specific tasks we will be working on:

Introducing the Preserving Virtual Worlds Collection

As many readers of this blog certainly know, How They Got Game @ Stanford was involved in both of the Preserving Virtual Worlds projects, along with teams at the University of Illinois, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (U. Maryland), and the Rochester Institute of Technology.  The projects were funded by the U.S. Library of Congress-National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, respectively.
 
I am pleased to announce that the digital collections created over the course of this (roughly five years) of scoping work, research and reporting were preserved - as befits a preservation project!  These collections have been gathered together and are now available through the Stanford Digital Repository, the digital "wing" of the Stanford University Libraries (so to speak).   Note that we are not at this time able to provide open access to all of the materials, due to rights restrictions.  The good news is that you are free to use many of the digital items; if you can see it, you can use it. The collections cover eight cases investigated over the course of the two PVW projects: Spacewar!, Adventure, Star Raiders, Mystery House, SimCity, DOOM, Arteroids, and the Corrupted Blood incident in World of Warcraft.  
 

Stanford Libraries preserves historical software collection with Federal Agency

Two-year project will image one of the largest pristine historical collections of microcomputing software in the world for historical and cultural research.
 
Read the full article here.

GameCity 2012 and game preservation

I will be on the program of this year's GameCity festival in Nottingham, England.  I will have a couple of chances to talk about PVW/PVW2 and will be having conversations with James Newman, Iain Simons and some other people at NTU (Nottingham Trent University, where the UK National Videogame Archive is located) about projects.
The two public events for me are:

Monday, 9am.  GameCity Breakfast talk. "You're All Going to Die." This is a panel with James, me, and Stella Wisdom of the British Library.  I expect that one theme will be the link between web archiving and game preservation.

Monday, 2.30pm. "Before It's Too Late: The National Videogame Archive Four Years On."  This is a "keynote" with James giving the main talk about the NVA, and I will respond.   Yes, the title has a familiar ring, and I'm sure that's intentional.

Tips for Nottingham and the Midlands are welcome.
 

New Oral History released by Computer History Museum: Al Alcorn

The Computer History Museum has just released the oral history I conducted with Al Alcorn back in 2008. The transcript can be found here.  The two interviews (both about two hours long) were also videotaped, and I am sure CHM will be releasing clips from the interview for various purposes.
 
Here is a short excerpt to whet your appetite.  

"Lowood: You made a quick comment in there. Do you think Steve Jobs was influenced by Bushnell?
 
Alcorn:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  Again, my personal belief-- remember, Steve was an adopted child, right.  And I don't think the relationship with his parents was that good, and and he was, what, 18, 19 years old?  To all of a sudden see this weird relationship between Nolan and myself, how the dynamics worked and how, you know, we already were known to be a pretty innovative company.  He came to us because it was clearly a fun place to work.  And then to see that process and the very nature of what happened with the Breakout story, you know, that Nolan would get him to go do this thing.  You heard the Breakout story. You know.   
 
Lowood:  Yes.   
 
Alcorn:  And not even tell me about it, you know, to get things done.  I mean, look at how things happened with the Macintosh and things at Apple later on, the same kind of thread, just flat out not taking no for an answer.  I think that Steve was affected by that [relationship with Bushnell.]  Yeah."
 

CFP: The History of Games International Conference, Montréal, 21-23 June 2013

 The History of Games International Conference

Stanford acquires archives of "Bay Area Video Arcades: Photographs by Ira Nowinski, 1981-1982."

The Stanford University Libraries have acquired the photographic archives of "Bay Area Video Arcades: Photographs by Ira Nowinski," 1981-1982."  The collection consists of approximately 650 35mm images, with contact sheets, as well as prints and digitized images for approximately 50 selected images. 

Ira Nowinski is an acclaimed documentary photographer who has created extraordinary photo essays in a variety of areas of recent history, including North Beach in San Francisco, the evacuation of elderly citizens in San Francisco's SOMA district, aspects of Southeast Asian, Jewish, and Native American culture, and an important photographic study of Holocaust Memorials.  

Ampex Model 200a installed in Green Library, Information Center

This photo was taken just after the installation of the restored (to working condition) Ampex Model 200a in the Stanford Library's Information Center, in Green Library. It stands alongside the VRX1000. These two machines are the highlights of the hardware portion of our Ampex historical collection, showing off key artifacts from the early history of audio and video recording, respectively. The gentleman standing next to the machine is Larry Miller, a former Ampex engineer who did a marvelous job of restoring the machine to near-pristine condition. Interestingly, Larry's father ran an electronics shop in the 1940s and probably produced a number of prototype components for this very piece of equipment.

 

Ampex Model 200a, Green Library, Information CenterAmpex Model 200a, Green Library, Information Center

 

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