Figuring out how to make the best possible use out of the millions of devices which already exist.
Salvage computing believes that the end of a computer product's lifecycle should be seen as a moment of celebration, a moment when its socioeconomic context can finally be reclaimed. Scavenge-friendly electronics are parts that are no longer manufactured, but that are available by the billions in landfills. Those who can manage to create new designs from scavenged parts with low-tech tools will be able to preserve electronics.
Designing for Disassembly ensures that all elements of a product can be disassembled for repair and for end of life. This allows for and encourages repairs, with the result that a product's life cycle is prolonged; and it allows for a product to be taken apart at the end of its life so that each component can be reclaimed. Among other shifts in thinking and making, this means minimizing materials, using simple mechanical fasteners instead of adhesives, clearly labeling components with their material type, and ensuring components can be disassembled with everyday tools.
That which cannot be repaired is already broken.
Unlike the nebulous goal of designing a sustainable product, designing a product for disassembly is a more concrete, quantifiable approach to ecologically sound making and to consumption. ~
|Migration||Periodically convert data to the next-generation formats||Data is instantly accessible||Copies degrade from generation to generation|
|Emulation||Mimicking the behavior of older hardware with software, tricking old programs into thinking they are running on their original platforms||Data does not need to be altered||Mimicking is seldom perfect; chains of emulators eventually break down|
|Encapsulation||Encase digital data in physical and software wrappers, showing future users how to reconstruct them||Details of interpreting data are never separated from the data themselves||Must build new wrappers for every new format and software release; works poorly for nontextual data|
|Universal virtual computer||Archive paper copies of specifications for a simple, software-defined decoding machine; save all data in a format readable by the machine||Paper lasts for centuries; machine is not tied to specific hardware or software||Difficult to distill specifications into a brief paper document|
Emulation is a way of preserving the functionality and access to digital information which might otherwise be lost due to technological obsolescence. One of the benefits of the emulation strategy compared with migration is that the original data need not be altered in any way. It is the emulation of the computer environment that will change with time.
A universal virtual computer needs to be well documented, contain a bare minimum of functionality, be easily testable for compliance, and have very, very few special cases in the specification, since special cases are opportunities for incompatibility; but despite that, it needs to be a reasonable target to write a compiler for. Finally, I argue that a UVC ought to have predictable performance.
Wait. What nostalgia? This is not about reliving fond memories or fetishize about an imaginary past, it's about being tactical in our choice of medium, so as to propagate a political perspective efficiently.~
- What is scavenge-friendly
- Digital-Preservation Proposals
- PADI's Notes on Emulation
- Archival with a universal virtual computer
incoming uxn devlog