art news & reviews & Interviews. jeff bergman, editor

161- The Adaptive Reuse of Digital Properties

Can digital properties, projects or formats be considered for adaptive reuse?*

The notion that a website or platform has been left unused is commonplace when that site is outdated tech.  The notion that a well made current platform would be abandoned seems bizarre.  Certainly the tools to make cookie cutter websites exist as cheap and easily customized entities.  To be certain, Tumblr and WordPress live on this very principle as did Blogger and Geocities before it.  

Though I am not a programmer, I have been the member of a generation that experienced the first home computer, Bulletin Board systems, the rise of Prodigy, AOL, chat rooms, file sharing and social networks.  It is commonplace now to watch websites, apps and platforms become outdated and lay fallow when they fall out of fashion.  It is also common to see newer technologies take off without a governing body, leading to mutation and the generation of new platforms for the most active user.  

When a new platform is created and then underused, the work of designers and engineers is utilized in much the same way a physical site would have required.  I would propose that we repurpose these sites and platforms for adaptive reuse and credit the original programmers so that their creation can continue its usefulness in the vacuum of stagnancy.  

The marriage of an open source ethos and a hacker’s methodology could bear fruit for a community like the nonprofit sector that cannot afford design that would benefit creative practice, philanthropic effort and public advocacy.  Further this model could be utilized by parties to service a community that would otherwise not have access to unique design without allocating significant capital resources.   Conversely, the for-profit community could then utilize this model to donate these properties, intellectual or platform based digital entities, for tax write offs.   I believe that this model could be used to move beyond the one size fits all style of nearly free web-design to provide the digitally homeless a long-term resource, while landmarking important digital properties.

-Jeff Bergman
  Summer 2016

*Please note: While this does not strictly fall under the purview of what Atlas has been about, I see a direct connection to this idea and it’s usefulness for arts organizations.

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