Susan Sontag

In the Sontag Archives by Benjamin Moser

As she showed me pictures on Wikipedia of the computers that Sontag used—a PowerBook 5300, the computer that my mother bought me when I went to college—a PowerMac G4, and an iBook—I got the feeling so familiar from buying a new computer or phone, that twinge of embarrassment that the thing that only a few months ago felt so hip and ultramodern is already pathetically outdated.

The machines themselves are not in the library, however: future researchers will consult the material on a laptop in the reading room with software that displays it as Sontag would have seen it. This is to protect the physical files. “Every time you open an e-mail or a Word file, that material is changed,” Gonzalez said. “There are automatic updates or—for example, on a Word file—the date is changed to the date it was consulted, and you can’t see when she last worked on it.” (Sontag, in “On Photography,” wrote that to look at something is to change it.)

To preserve them, Gonzalez relies on techniques developed by law enforcement, an area known as digital forensics. The principal protection of a computer’s metadata is a write blocker, which allows the material to be seen without leaving any trace of the visitor. It is a fairly simple technical intervention. But the real threat comes from people who simply discard old computers, ignorant of their value.



Despre Claudiu Degeratu
Expert in securitate nationala, internationala, NATO, UE, aparare si studii strategice

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