A special plenary session on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the SIA
Industrial archeology is the systematic study of material evidence associated with the industrial past. This evidence includes buildings, machinery, artifacts, sites, infrastructure, documents and other items associated with the production, manufacture, extraction, transport or construction of a product or range of products. But, as the nature of industry changes, so does the nature of industrial artifacts. While industrial archeology has grappled with the temporary nature of some of its artifacts by developing extensive documentation methodologies, and with the inaccessibility of others by use of remote sensing technologies, emerging challenges may be more profound. How does one study an artifact in earth orbit, or on the surface of the moon? As software “eats the world,” in Marc Andreessen’s memorable phrase, what does “artifact” even mean? What are the artifacts of the video gaming industry or the social media industry? Industrial archeology is accustomed to the study of the output of complex engineering and production processes. What methodologies apply when that output is just a string of digital bits?
(more details linked here as this develops)