Report Open Access

CD-ROM archiving. Archiving and distribution of CD-ROM artworks, a study of the Emulation as a Service (EaaS) tool and other proposals

Nina van Doren; Alexandre Michaan

CD-ROMs were popular carriers for interactive works of art from the early to late 1990s. Unlike mainstream mass-produced CD-ROMs, CD-ROM art was usually published on a very small scale, or even remained unpublished altogether. These artworks were created specifically for this medium, and should not be confused with regular files stored on a CD-ROM. This makes them unique, but also vulnerable. Now that many computers are no longer equipped with optical discs drives, operating systems have become outdated, and files are often unreadable, these works are threatened with oblivion. Emulation is a preservation strategy aimed at ensuring sustained access to CD-ROM art. In this study, we evaluate an archiving strategy for CD-ROM art, partly based on the study of BwFLA’s Emulation as a Service (EaaS), an emulation tool and service developed by the University of Freiburg.1 In the first section of this report, we will focus on what is EaaS, and what are the implications of this service for the management and preservation of CD-ROM art collections. In the second section we will set out an archiving strategy composed of three steps: (1) the installation of emulation software; (2) storage and archiving; and (3) access and distribution. In this final step, the potential use of EaaS to enable online access to CD-ROM collections will be explored by formulating an extensive documentation procedure.

This study has produced a clear picture of the current state of affairs in the field, and of the potential for implementing emulation in the management and preservation of CD-ROM artworks as part of our cultural heritage.

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