Emulation is the duplication of one computing system’s functions in another. It is not a model (or a simulation) but a reproduction of material behaviours. For this exercise, we'll ask how scholars might emulate Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse.
When examining Uncle Buddy, here are some questions to ask:
- What media and formats are at play in the object?
- Where are those media? How are they stored or expressed?
- How would we describe the formal materiality of these media?
- How would we describe their forensic materiality?
- How do we speak meaningfully about the loop between the forensic and formal?
- How (if at all) do these factors intersect with literary expression? With literary production? For instance, when does the forensic materiality of a text matter when assessing its literary "value"?
Some Issues with Emulation
- It is expensive and can drain resources/infrastructure.
- It may become less popular as writers become more aware of digital preservation strategies (including things like Git and other revision control techniques).
- Many preservation issues can be resolved through redundancy. Or, put differently: redundancy is arguably our best preservation strategy.
- Memory and other material factors affect processing, meaning the timing and experience of historical media are difficult to replicate.
Some Emulation Techniques
- Standardization: produce generalizable standards or guidelines for emulators that will run on platforms / systems that have not yet been built (hence the need for speculative/conjectural practice)
- Encapsulation: document/object itself, software, OS software, and their metadata
- Metadata: produce structural, administrative, and discovery metadata for digital objects (e.g., using the Dublin Core ontology)
Tools and Example Work