Citation: Alan Liu, David Durand, Nick Montfort, Merrilee Proffitt, Liam R. E. Quin, Jean-Hugues Réty, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Version 1.1. August 5, 2005. Electronic Literature Organization. Retrieved [date of access]. <>.

This white paper is part of the Electronic Literature Organization’s PAD (Preservation / Archiving / Dissemination) initiative. PAD aims to create methods for preserving or migrating experimental, “born-digital” works of creative literature that are perishing with their original hardware and software environments.

Excerpt from section 1.2

The migration of electronic literature must occur in a framework that accommodates not just swarming technical changes but equally complex, swarming social needs. The players in the game, after all, will not just be the original authors and readers but also future users with more diverse, autonomous needs–for example, secondary authors or remixers (who might create, for example, works dynamically quoting or aggregating other works), publishers, editors, distributors, instructors, students, and collective users (as in the setting of a classroom or reading society). Indeed, even the burgeoning league of software agents, Web services, RSS readers, and other instances of what might be called machinic “users” (automated ways of distributing, parsing, and repackaging information) will need to be considered as virtual members of the society of e-lit.

Seen in a larger perspective, the problem is not the preservation of old or aging e-lit per se. It is the description and representation of electronic literature of any vintage in a neutral, open source, standards-based form—one capable of maintaining the essential experience of a work while allowing its presentation to adapt to evolving hardware and software channels through understood, regular, and automated methods of transformation.

(From section 3 on
“X-Lit Initiative”)

Because the long-term digital preservation of electronic literature is such a complex technical and social equation, it will not be the responsibility of any single stakeholder community. The job will not be done by authors, librarians, publishers, or programmers acting separately.

The job can only be done through the collaboration of multiple stakeholders and their institutions (organizations such as ELO, research libraries, universities, software firms and consortiums, and so forth). As in the case of other digital preservation initiatives originating in the library or museum worlds (see Related Initiatives), the migration of e-lit will require collaborative institutional relationships and shared technical standards.

The unique mission of electronic literature organizations or programs in such a multi-institutional framework will be to serve as the catalyst for the creation of standards specific to e-lit that no other organization makes a high priority.

(See full text online)