Practice in the Information Age

Orvis Starkweather, Matt Fesnak, &  Abigail Sparling

Collecting Cory Arcangel: A Case Study on Software-based Art Preservation Planning
Orvis Starkweather
With the exception of a handful of prominent art museums, software-based art is rarely collected by institutions. Cory Arcangel entered the public consciousness by modifying Nintendo video games as artworks. When accessioned, the art enters the collection as a game system and the modified game cartridge. In 2004, Arcangel established that the hardware of his piece was integral component and that the meaning would be compromised if it ran on an emulator. Yet in 2014, the artist created an artwork where a couple of his old pieces operated on emulators. This suggests that the artist’s attitude towards future iterations of his artworks might have changed in the interim decade, highlighting the pressing need to rethink best practices for versioning. I argue that this best practice for preserving software-based artworks reveals that museums still have an underlying assumption about there being a single, authentic version of an artwork, one where the artist’s wishes are given primacy.

Organizing pornography, organizing desire
Matt Fesnak
While libraries and librarians pride themselves on their classification systems and their ability to use these systems to organize and access information, new technologies are forcing changes on the profession. Tagging and “trending topics” have become ubiquitous ways to organize the web, and give users a sense of control over the content presented to them. On websites like,, and, users upload content with ease and add tags in order for other people to find it, a process described by Vander Wal (2004) as “folksonomy”. This leads to what Jodi Dean (2012) calls “communicative capitalism”, wherein users are given the feeling of freedom and limitless possibility but actually come across many Foucaultian surveillance mechanisms and limitations. This paper presentation will have a specific focus on the role of trends, categories, and tags for the discoverability of web content, and the impact that hegemonic categorization practices have on marginalized bodies, desires, and ideas.

Designing for On-Screen Narrative Reading: Investigating Text Structure and Reading Comprehension
Abigail Sparling
When it comes to supporting the in-depth linear reading strategies required to process long, information-rich texts, on-screen text and reading interface designs continue to fall short. With a majority of readers’ long-form reading preferences defaulting to print editions, there is a need to investigate how and why texts presented on screen are failing readers. What scholars and publishers fail to account for in the study and design of digital texts is how the form of a text (from its grammatical construction, to the graphic organization of its content) influences the reader’s ability to process its content.  For texts with well known conventional structure, such as narrative texts which conform to both semantic and spatial structural conventions, text structure cannot be divorced from the cognitive processes of reading and comprehension. Drawing from the fields of narratology, cognitive psychology and human computer interaction this paper will investigate how the study and design of digital narrative texts can be improved by understanding and maintaining conventional narrative structures.