Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

University of Maryland

Archive for News


My latest piece of game-related writing over at Play the Past examines Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001-?, a controversial board game that attempts to create a playable model of the post-9/11 world. What are the responsibilities of designer, player, and publisher with a game timely and topical enough to encompass rapidly unfolding events in Egypt and the Middle East? Can a game, any game, do justice to the complexities and sensitivities of our contemporary world? Can board games tackle material mass market computer games can’t or won’t? Join the discussion!

Digital Forensics Report Now Out

Forensics ReportI’m very happy to announce the availability of Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, a new CLIR report emerging from the Mellon-sponsored workshop on the same topic held last spring here at the University of Maryland. The report (written by myself, Richard Ovenden, and Gabriela Redwine, with research assistance from Rachel Donahue) introduces the field of digital forensics in the cultural heritage sector and explores some points of convergence between the interests of those charged with collecting and maintaining born-digital cultural heritage materials and those charged with collecting and maintaining legal evidence.

Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections is available electronically at Print copies will be available in January for ordering through CLIR’s Web site, for $25 per copy plus shipping and handling.

Play the Past

I am very pleased to announce that I have signed on as a regular contributor to Play the Past, a new group blog on meaningful play and cultural heritage. For me, Play the Past represents an opportunity to continue to develop the explorations I began in my now dormant Zone of Influence blog on tabletop historical gaming. Only here I get to do it in the company of some truly fabulous collaborators. My beat on Play the Past will consist primarily of tabletop wargames, or conflict simulations as they are sometimes known. My first post, “Conflicting the Past,” explains why all of this interests me.

Book of Clouds

My talk at the excellent Why Books? conference is one of the featured items in “The Book of Clouds,” a story on the future of the literary record in the Boston Phoenix. Additional post-conference coverage also available at the first link above.


I will be giving my talk on “The .txtual Condition” next week at the University of Pittsburgh, and also leading a seminar on that perennial question, “What is Digital Humanities?” Details here. Thanks to DM@P for sponsoring me.

Preserving Virtual Worlds News

A trifecta of exciting news items from the Preserving Virtual Worlds project, on which I have been a co-PI alongside of researchers here at Maryland, as well as the University of Illinois, Stanford University, and the Rochester Institute of Technology, as well as Linden Lab, creators of Second Life.

First, the project has released its final report, 195 pages detailing two years worth of findings from our research, including such topics as emulation, virtualization, migration, archival description, collections policy, hardware stemmatics, Rosetta computing, and disk image forensics.

PVW has also been shortlisted as one of five finalists for the prestigious 2010 Digital Preservation Award, sponsored by the Digital Preservation Coalition and the Institute for Conservation. The winner will be announced in December.

Finally, we received the very welcome news that the next two-year iteration of the project will be funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Preserving Virtual Worlds II: Methods for Evaluating and Preserving Significant Properties of Educational Games and Complex Interactive Environments (PVW2) will be conducted in partnership with the University of Illinois (lead institution), the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Stanford University. PVW2 plans to help improve the capacity of libraries, museums, and archives to preserve computer games, virtual worlds, and interactive fiction. Full press release here.

Why Books?

I’ll be speaking at the “Why Books?” conference hosted by the Radcliffe Institute at the end of October. It’s a great line-up, including Robert Darnton, Paul Duguid, Adrian Johns, Meredith McGill, Leah Price, and Peter Stallybrass. The title of my talk (with apologies to Jerome McGann) is “The .txtual Condition.”