Preserving Virtual Worlds

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PCA Project – SHL statement of work

Stanford Humanities Lab at Stanford University (SHL), working closely with the Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR) will assume a lead role in several aspects of the PCA project. Our efforts will focus on the representative cases of digital games and the virtual world Second Life. Michael Shanks, Omar and Althea Hoskins Professor of Archeology, and Henry Lowood, Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections, both co-directors of the Lab, will lead the group, which also includes project manager Henrik Bennetsen, research director of SHL, Dr. Matteo Bittanti, digital games researcher at UC Berkeley, and colleagues from SULAIR’s Stanford Digital Repository.

In the first year of work, SHL will focus on research and practical specifications to identify representative cases illustrating preservation problems and recommended solutions. Our efforts on digital games will tie in closely with the game preservation group of the International Game Developers Association (e.g., identification of the “digital game canon”), and we will work in close coordination with the other project partners on the development of preservation frameworks, metadata schema, data representation formats, community education, and identification of archivable content. In this work, we will draw upon resources at Stanford, particularly the Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection in the History of Microcomputing of SULAIR, probably the largest institutional collection of early computer and video games in the world. In the first year, we will also take the lead in analysis of data and metadata, as well as documentation, characteristic of a 3-d “virtual world” by focusing on three Second Life installations: Life to the Second Power, the International Spaceflight Museum, and Democracy Island. We will work together with Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, in this aspect of the project. We will also take the lead for the PCA project in curating related web documentation via the Internet Archive’s Archive-It tools and in exploring legal and social issues pertaining to preservation of virtual world content. In year two, we will wind up these investigations and, with the other PCA partners, develop recommended specifications and practices for preservation of the digital collections from the representative cases. SULAIR will play a larger role in year two of the project as we converge on the goal of ingesting content and metadata from the project into the Stanford Digital Repository.

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