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Accepted Contribution:

The digital remains: degrowing our personal digital heritage  
Marije Miedema (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)

Short abstract:

This talk addresses data loss in the context of our personal digital heritage by reflecting on ongoing fieldwork in a local community center in collaboration with a theater collective. Considering the value of our digital remains, digital possessions we cherish, what is discarded or left behind.

Long abstract:

When we pass away, we leave behind digital remains. Sometimes our digital existence stays online, but not all traces we leave behind are considered as our personal digital heritage. There is also a lot of digital waste (un)intentionally generated that could pre-emptively be discarded such as screenshots of your travel schedule, text messages with verifying codes and accounts on websites you last visited years ago. This would not only declutter a person’s digital legacy but also degrow our pile of personal data which in turn limits the ecological impact of digital technologies. Right now, what our personal digital heritage consists of, and more importantly what it could do without, are not yet a big concern in our current save-by-default society. In this talk I will draw from preliminary findings informed by ongoing research in a grassroots volunteering community of people experiencing (temporary) socioeconomic hardship located in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Through ethnographic fieldwork and participatory action research in collaboration with a theatre collective, I focus my attention on individuals’ preservation practices and the normative assumptions behind decisions on what we cherish, discard and what might be left behind. I show that the specific experiences of this local community provide a unique point of view on the present and future of our digital past. By providing a space for their stories, acknowledging the precarity of their situation, I aim to change the conversation from save to delete.

Combined Format Open Panel P122
Degrowing data: valuing and practicing intentional data loss
  Session 1 Tuesday 16 July, 2024, -