The Rutgers-Camden Archive of Digital Ephemera (R-CADE) provides scholars and artists the opportunity to do hands-on work with digital ephemera. The 2019 Symposium will take place April 19, 2019 at Rutgers University-Camden, which is accessible from Philadelphia International Airport and by rail lines.

Panelists for the 2019 R-CADE Symposium are invited to address the topic of “Trash.” It’s easy to consider digital life in terms of an abundance of space. Photos are immediately saved to the cloud, and even spam is archived in our Gmail accounts. The ‘Trash’ icon on our desktop is vestigial, left over from a time when hard drives were smaller. However, the notion that the digital offers infinite resources is a fiction. The Internet is not an unlimited space of pure virtuality; it is a collection of server farms gobbling up energy spewing carbon dioxide. Our digital trash is taking up space. Digital devices are constructed from mined materials that exploit workers, environments, and economies, and those same devices are often dumped without much concern for environmental impact. Digital content clutters our attention and our servers. In short, digital trash has a real, material impact on the world around us.

Research in media studies has urged us to think of glitches, spam, and computer viruses as more than just defects, as something other than the flaws of our systems. This work has pushed researchers and artists to consider these portions of digital culture not as bugs but as features. Trash is part of our digital infrastructure. This year’s R-CADE symposium invites this kind of approach to trash.

2019 Panelists will be announced publicly in February.