Software History Futures and Technologies (SHFT)

The Software History Futures and Technologies (SHFT) research group is the culmination of my work over the last decade in the areas of software history and preservation. SHFT’s goal is to develop new tools for the archival treatment and interpretation of software records as well as the articulation of new historical theories about software use and materialities.

I recently received a CSU Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities (RSCA) mini-grant to organize a proper SHFT website and combine many legacy projects into a more coherent narrative for my work.

Currently, I have six undergraduate students working on a variety of projects, including:

The Data Redundancy Elimination and Compression (DREC) tool. This software is an abstraction of the code used to generate the content profiles of our large production data set. The goal is to automatically analyze large, heterogeneous collections of records to find redundancies and undercompressed items. The impetus for this work was the discovery that around 1/3 of the ETC production data set was effectively redundant due to many copies of development environment files. Additionally, a lot of video files were uncompressed and shrinking them to more manageable sizes would significantly reduce the size of the data set overall

A research white paper on the current state of national and international Adobe Flash preservation efforts. Adobe Flash was a foundational means of providing interactive content online, and the source of hundreds of thousands of interactive programs and games. Since Adobe’s deprecation of Flash (in the West) in 2020 numerous community-driven preservation efforts have cropped up. This research aims to provide a broad overview of the key social and technical issues present in Flash preservation work, not least of which that Flash is still actively supported in some locales (primarily China).

Students are also exploring historical emulation workflows to help better articulate the issues with running legacy software. Three of my students spent the summer of 2022 working with the EaaSI system and local emulators to configure a number of projects from the ETC data set and objects donated by the library. We are currently working on coding 700+ pages of notes to delineate different dependencies and processes associated with emulation activities.

Further additions to the Game Metadata and Citation Project (GAMECIP) platform and media format vocabularies. After the GAMECIP project ended in 2018 there have been numerous requests to add terms to the vocabulary. We are currently working on researching and adding all new international platforms that were released since the close of the project.

Investigations into the methods used by players to recover and store memories of game play and game accomplishments. The goal of this research is to organize a study of a wide swath of game players to see how they remember their historical game play and what methods they use to archive it. This may come through streaming, saved game files, gameplay videos, etc. Hopefully, this work can point toward new methodologies for saving records of gameplay (and therefore software) use.