Bits to Pieces is...

views on digital preservation

thoughts and views

tips and tricks

bits of others

Q&A Erik Adigard

Erik Adigard is a communication designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work ranges from branding, interaction design, immersive installations and video to consulting and design strategy. Better known projects include many visual essays for Wired magazine, websites for WiredDigital, the branding of IBM software, and large exhibits for La Villette, Paris, the Lisbon Biennale and the Venice Architecture Biennale. He also teaches, and serve on juries and advisory boards.  www.adigard.com and www.madxs.com

Absolutely Adigard
Erik Adigard. Absolut Adigard. 1996. Courtesy of Absolut Vodka.

Q&A Piet Schreuders

Piet Schreuders

Piet Schreuders (1951), graphic designer since 1975, editor-publisher of magazines De Poezenkrant and Furore, art director of VPRO Gids, researcher and writer. www.pietschreuders.com

Images courtesy Piet Schreuders. All rights reserved ©Piet Schreuders.


Q&A Max Kisman

As an analog graphic designer I first got interested in using computers when I saw a music video that used pixelation in its imagery. It was the early 80s and at the time I was graphic designer for Vinyl Music magazine. I used computer prints in an experimental "computer issue" (see elsewhere on this site). From then on I started to integrate digital technology in my graphic, typographic and illustrated work. Working with the Sinclair Spectrum 48K, the first editions of Apple Macintosh for print and Commodore Amiga 1000 for animation, I literally grew up (and in) with the technology in my field. It was applied in a.o. the '87 issue Red Cross Stamps of Dutch postal service, Language Technology/Electric word magazine, posters for Paradiso and Television graphics for Dutch VPRO Broadcasting networks. Later I got seriously involved in designing graphics for the first editions of websites like HotWired and VPRO digital. www.kismanstudio.nl

1986 Tekst&Beeld De Meervaart
Max Kisman and Bert Hendriks explain how they use the Apple MAcintosh at the 1986 Woord & Beeld event in the Meervaart, Amsterdam NL

Digital Death Day

While we pay most of our attention to preserving our valuable digital data luckily other smart people think beyond this and concern about our digital afterlife. Last Digital Death Day held on 20 May 2010 in London brought together the businesses of social networking, data management and.... death care. They identified three dimensions of digital death:


Forgotten and found. The 1984 Apple Macintosh pricing list.

In 1982 Vinyl music magazine was designed using rudimentary computer printouts for its typography. The Apple Macintosh wasn't available then. Vinyl's design was experimental, clumsy, but it contained the idea that magazines might as well be computer generated. See the article on Vinyl, magazine for modern music (still to be translated). Affordable computer technology was still quite remote for me.


Digital engravings for value paper

Between the antiquarian books and brochures at Nijhof and Lee earlier this year I did find the leaflet De zomerzegels en de computer (The summer stamps and the computer) from 1970. At that time, the summer stamps of 1970 fascinated me enormously one way, yet on the other hand I resisted their mechanical appearance.

De zomerzegels en de Computer, brochure PTT 1970

Picking up the pieces, California

In June 2010 we have been visiting and talking to a few main characters from the early days of digital graphic design in California, USA. We made interviews with MAD's Erik Adigard and Patricia McShane in Sausolito, and San Anselmo's visual artist John Hersey.

Over bewaren

In mijn gesprekken met grafisch ontwerpers gaat het opvallend vaak over archiveren en tegenwoordig vooral over 'digitaal bewaren'. Het valt me telkens op hoe verschillend er wordt gedacht over het nut en noodzaak van het duurzaam bewaren van digitale bestanden, maar ook hoe weinig informatie er voor 'niet-professionals' beschikbaar is. De meeste van mijn gesprekspartners beginnen uit te leggen dat ze vroeger braaf CD's en DVD's branden maar dat ze inmiddels beter weten en zijn overgestapt naar opslag op een extra harde schijf. Meestal geautomatiseerd.

 

De digitale vergetelheid

We leven in een digitaal tijdperk waarin een groot deel van de wereldbevolking werkt en communiceert met voortdurend nieuwere vormen van technologie. Informatie wordt uitgewisseld via e-mail, muziek bestaat alleen nog op MP3’tjes, vakantiefoto’s worden bewaard op internet en met de overheid communiceren we via een digitaal loket.

 

 

Vinyl, tijdschrift voor moderne muziek

1981. In de Volkskrant of Parool las ik over iemand die een coputerprogramma aan het ontwikkelen was om ‘normale’ lettertypes geschikt te maken voor een matrixprinter. Hij had daar al wat mee geëxperimenteerd op een Apple Lisa of Apple II en kon de letters op verschillende groottes uitprinten.

Q&A Max Kisman
on Saturday, 10 September 2011 08:11
As an analog graphic designer I first got interested in using computers when I saw a music video that used pixelation in its imagery. It was the early 80s and at the time I was graphic designer for Vinyl Music magazine. I used computer prints in an experimental "computer issue" (see elsewhere on this site). From then on I started to integrate digital technology in my graphic, typographic and illustrated work. Working with the Sinclair Spectrum 48K, the first editions of Apple Macintosh for print and Commodore Amiga 1000 for animation, I literally grew up (and in) with the technology in my field. It was applied in a.o. the '87 issue Red Cross Stamps of Dutch postal service, Language Technology/Electric word magazine, posters for Paradiso and Television graphics for Dutch VPRO Broadcasting networks. Later I got seriously involved in designing graphics for the first editions of websites like HotWired and VPRO digital. www.kismanstudio.nl

1986 Tekst&Beeld De Meervaart
Max Kisman and Bert Hendriks explain how they use the Apple MAcintosh at the 1986 Woord & Beeld event in the Meervaart, Amsterdam NL


Was there an urgency to organize your archives?
Immediately. Working analog, I often needed to refer to or use previously produced designs. Usually they were stored in drawers where I could find them. My early digital archive mirrored that approach more or less. Each project was stored on a floppy and relating floppies were stored in boxes.

1982 Vinyl magazine 1988 Paradiso 1988 Roach
Left: 1982 Vinyl magazine, the manually composed "computer issue" with various print outs of type and images. Middle: 1988 sketch for Paradiso poster. Richt: 1988 digitizing model for Piet Schreuders "Roach" typeface

What is the structure behind its organization?
Not particularly. Grouped together, with a minimal description or title of the project.

How do you keep track or how do you catalog the archives (print, computer)?
As far as print concerns, I didn't because I knew where I could find something. After moving around the world, files ended up in folders and boxes. I haven't made an indexing yet. Computer files all carry a date and name label. Digital projects are chronologically grouped together in chronologically ordered project folders folders.

1990 Startup screen 1990 Fudoni
Left: 1990 Startup screen for Apple Macintosh. Right: 1990 Fudoni typeface on in Adobe Illustrator/Apple Macintosh

When did you start using the computer?
In 1982 I stared to experiment with computer prints of large type and images in magazine design. In 1983 I could afford my first computer, a Sinclair Spectrum 48K to experiment with graphics, lettering and animation.

From that moment on, did you change storing your work files differently? If so, why?
Not really. I always knew I needed some kind of structure. Sinclair Spectrum files were stored on linear cassette tape. It was a hassle to find the start of a document, to load it. Floppies were much easier. It only needed a clear labeling with understandable description. Color labels often were useful. It became more complex with the early hard drives. Although they were't as large as nowadays, it already needed something different than just naming the file and folder that carried it. Only relatively recently I adapted the chronological labeling system, making the files more accessible.

1993 De digitale stad 1993 Hot Wired
Left: 1993 De Digitale Stad, a digital city arms. Right: 1993 Splash screen for the Hot Wired website, Wired magazine's digital channel.


Do you regularly make back-ups?
A few years ago I started to copy the projects in progress from my main computer continuously on a external hard disk (my transport disk), then copying them on my laptop, mirroring and including finished projects on my main computer. This way I have three copies of all my recent work available. I keep at least the preceding six month available. Every month (or so) I make a back up of the last month on two archive disks on different locations.

Do you use a strategy of saving your work files. If so could you briefly describe it?
The main folder for work is called "MaxK_Projects". It contains 12 folders, one for each month. When a new month comes up I create a folder called "YYYY_MM name of the month", like "2011_11 November". This will create a chronological order of the months.
When I start a new project, I create a folder called "YYYY_MM_name of client (abbreviation)_name (of project or alike)". For projects with a set publication date or deadline, like illustrations, I use that particular date. For non set date projects I use the day of entry. This creates also a chronological order of the project files.
When I create the first document within a project, I repeat it (or similar) with adding a version number: "YYYY_MM_name of client (abbreviation)_name (of project or alike)_version number".
So I use the chronological system through all my documents. This allows me to search on date and name quite easily. Projects and productions overlapping months will move forward into the upcoming month.

By trial and error I have learned to do the "Save As" shortcut almost automatically!

maxk archive 01

My filing system from 1987 up to date. Most old file until 1990 are inaccesible.


maxk archive 02
Currently I force use the date/name method extensively


Do you have specific questions about sustainable storage of your digital work files?
The advantage of storing paper and print product is that their maintenance is much less work. Digital storing demands constant alertness and overview. There are various automated systems, yet I prefer manual control, using the formats that I know and I think are reliable. I have used various audio and video soft- and hardware with their own compressing formats that now are outdated. Many files are inaccessible, yet the final edits have been saved in currently still functioning audio and video formats.

How long would it take you to locate a five year old digital work file? And how long would it take you to locate a physical document?
A digital work file from five years ago would take me (if the indexing of the computer works) a few seconds to a minute. Manually I would take me one to ten minutes. A physical document could take me ten minutes up to half a day…

1995 Hackers Ball Paradiso 1995 Hackers Ball Paradiso
1995 The late artist Maarten Ploeg (left) and Mark Dols showing to Adam Eeuwens and Louis Stiller (right) at Paradiso's Hackers Ball. Photos taken with Apple's digital Quicktake camera, using the now uncommon Quickdraw format

Would you be able to use the digital file still?
In general yes. Yet I have produced experimental work of which I can't recall how I did it.

What is of more importance to you, your physical, analog archive or your digital archive and why?
Equally important. Besides being able to use or re-use the work in some way, it is very important – as a creative mind – to be able to reflect on its intrinsic values and appearance.

1996 Animation Still 1996 Transparant elephone card
Left: 1996 Still from a program leader for VPRO TV, Absolutely Fabulous. Right: 1996 Design for the transparant telefone card of KPN Telecom, NL


Images courtesy Max Kisman. All rights reserved ©Max Kisman.

 


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