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. and

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.

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.

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.

Digital Death Day
Published by kvdh on Thursday, 12 May 2011 12:38
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:

"First dimension (D1) deals with the death of a living being. The death of a human begs the question: what happens to the mass of digital information left behind? Are there parts of the information space one would like to ‘leave’ to loved ones, for example photos or financial information. In addition, one must question whether there are any parts of the information space that one would want to ‘die’ with them. An equally important aspect of human death is the grieving process and whether the ritual of death is more important, or as important, as the dead body. If this is the case then can virtualization of death rituals assist in the grieving process? One can perhaps get a feeling of this process by wondering into a graveyard in Second Life.

Second dimension (D2) deals with the death of digital information. The death of information itself is also to be considered when your digital information dies before you. For example, the death of a person’s personal computer or hard disk. How does this ‘loss’ of a personal computer or hard disk affect people? This directly relates to how much information was lost and to how important and/or personal the information was. Another form of ‘information death’ is when a system progresses or technology advances and your information is left in a format that cannot be read, for example the move from floppy disk to CD. This information is then lost or ‘dead.’ Note that the preservation of digital material is a current worldwide concern.

Third dimension deals with immortality of digital information and the need to engineer its death. Digital information can be immortal, because anything you write in the virtual world remains. If it remains in circulation, your ‘bits’ will remain forever. However, this can also cause problems as there are an increasing number of people placing information online4, 5 every day and this information remains forever, even after someone has died And we are only at the infancy of the Digital Era! If this trend continues we will soon be buried in graveyards of ‘dead’ personal information."


Next Digital Death Day Europe will be on September 13th following the Death, Dying and Disposal Conference in the Netherlands.