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Important forthcoming changes to rhizome.org user functions and the ArtBase

By Rhizome

Dear rhizome.org users:

We’re writing today to update you on the future of user functions on rhizome.org as we prepare to launch a new site this year. Our current site is almost five years old, so we’re happy to be working on something that will reflect the current and future state of the web, and better reflect Rhizome as an organization.

Important: Phasing Out Member Portfolios

On November 1st, 2015, we will freeze the current Member Portfolios and archive them in our ArtBase. When the new site is ready, your existing user account will be transferred over to the new site, including your user icon, "user since" stamp, "supporter" stamp (thank you, members and donors!), password, and a representative URL.

Then, up to the deadline of November 1st, you will be able to create, modify, or delete your portfolio. The next day, we will provide a permanent public download for each public portfolio, including information about the presented works, in the form of zipped HTML files and images, which will allow you to migrate your portfolio to your own website if you wish.

In addition, after November 1st, these portfolios will become part of our permanent archive. The entire Member Portfolios section of the site will be publicly accessible, acting as a snapshot of a time on Rhizome’s site and in its community. The URLs of portfolio pages will be redirected to the archived versions to keep external links intact, and they will look exactly the same as they do now. After entering the archive, the portfolios will stay frozen, but you can have your profile deleted from the archive at any time by writing an email to Rhizome. Any outbound links contained in your archived portfolio will remain unchanged and cannot be updated.

The decision to close the portfolio service has not been easy, but the service has lost much of its utility and relevance: many portfolios are effectively abandoned, don't present current information, and are full dead links. At the same time, there are still treasures to discover, and history has been documented here. That is why the portfolio pages in their entirety will receive proper conservation treatment and become part of Rhizome's archive.

The ArtBase

While separate from Member Portfolios, this is a good opportunity to give you some information about the ArtBase. We've received feedback that our ArtBase accession policy is unclear, and the distinction between actively preserved ArtBase works and user-uploaded, externally linked Member Portfolio pages—which often contain dead links—is hard to discern.

The current state of the ArtBase is that it contains 2000+ works, but accession of new items dramatically slowed in 2008—a decision that was made largely based on an increasing awareness of our inability to preserve, commit to, and care for the volume and complexity of works we were receiving in the open submission model.

Since that time, Rhizome has focused its conservation efforts on research and methodology, from metadata to emulation. Our current digital preservation research focuses on developing new tools to allow communities to create their own archives, and preserve their own works more easily. This will not only ensure more works are preserved, but open up new narratives. As part of this research, we have accessioned specific works and sites, such as Amalia Ulman's Excellences & Perfections, the Theresa Duncan CD-ROMS, and VVORK, which have served as test cases.

With the launch of the new site, we will move into a new phase, shifting focus from research to implementation. We’ll be archiving and offering stable access to a wider range of works on an ongoing basis, with a new accession policy led by curatorial concerns and an expansive approach to digital art and digital culture.

Some of these details may change as we develop the new site—we’ll keep you abreast of anything major.

—The Rhizome Team

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