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Help Fund Rhizome's Preservation Program

By Ben Fino-Radin

Rhizome has always placed an emphasis on, and played a leading role in the preservation of born-digital works of art and culture. Since 1999, our archive, the ArtBase has grown to become one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind, and our preservation practices have inspired an emerging generation of archivists. Here at the end of 2012 however, we find ourselves on the precipice of a new moment. Our ambitions have grown, or mission expanded, and we need your help in order to accomplish our goals in 2013. Please consider making a donation to our Annual Community Fundraiser to help us realize our preservation efforts.

Recently, we were generously donated two machines (seen above) from 1993, that functioned as servers for a NYC based electronic bulletin board system (BBS) that many readers will be familiar with: The Thing. This BBS was one of the earliest online communities of artists, curators, and critics, and grew to become a forum for international discourse – all of this pre-dating the emergence of the World Wide Web. In 1994, when The Thing migrated to the web, much of the BBS material was left behind. As well – the material nature of the experience of using The Thing was forever changed – transitioning from a text-based or crude graphical interface, to the new interactive affordances of the web.

Rhizome is on a mission to rescue data from these machines, and others, that contain the sole remaining complete record of The Thing as a BBS. Our goal is to restore access to this data through a virtualization that will allow the public to interact with The Thing BBS. In order to accomplish this task, there are very real costs. This is Rhizome’s first forray into a project involving digital forensics, and with your support we can secure the crucial hardware required for this work.

In 2012, the scale of our web archiving efforts grew exponentially. In the past, works that were preserved in the ArtBase tended to be of relatively small scale – solitary works or projects. We are now archiving sites that are much larger in scope, including the legendary website of prominent collective, Paper Rad. In order to make large scale web archiving efforts a larger part of our everyday operations, we need the community's support in order to grow the Rhizome team.

The past year was a boon for expanding the ArtBase collection. This summer, the prolific Rafael Rozendaal donated the entirety of his finished works produced to-date – consisting of 75 websites in all. In addition to this sizeable donation, we preserved over seventy works, just a few highlights of which including:

While our preservation efforts and accomplishments in 2012 have been no small feat, our goals for 2013 are ambitious to the extent that we can’t realize them without a bit of help. I hope that you will consider a donation today, so that Rhizome may continue to ensure the longevity of these important slices of history.

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