Fan fiction archives can teach information science about what it means to try to preserve culture in the moment of its unfolding, cultural forms at their peak production levels. Information science understands a lot about preserving cultural objects that are old, that have taken on great significance in the time since their release, but preserving digital culture means archiving texts, images, video, and motion graphics a s they are circulating, when they’re the most relevant, not when they are already relegated to “the past.”
Fan fiction archives led the way in the effort to try to effectively store, and make available, digital cultural works as they were being generated. What archivists of both physical and digital objects share is a need to keep and maintain those objects because they are important, and they are in constant threat of being lost. And digital objects are even more prone to sudden disappearance than physical ones a hosting company can decide not to host your fan fiction works anymore, or an archivist can “flounce” from their archive and simply shut it down, or a social media platform can opt to delete fanfic stories without notifying anyone, or servers can simply crash.
Fan fiction archivists got into the digital preservation game so early that they definitely encountered all of these dangers and more, and have collectively created many defenses against digital loss and disappearance that all archivists can and should learn from.
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