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Northwestern University

It's alive!

What is #UndeadTech?

Nothing less than an audacious bid to bring the dead back to life.

Dead cell phones, dead data drives, and other dead devices have been washing up in University Archives with nary a cord to power them up; dead on arrival. How can an archivist preserve the information on these lifeless digital corpses?

#UndeadTech, that’s how.

From October 19-30, Northwestern Libraries are accepting donations of the old, outdated, useless cords clogging your storage closets and junk drawers. Find donation boxes in Deering Library, Mudd, Schaffner and University libraries, or mail these life-giving umbilicals to us directly (see below).

Are you serious?

Cross our hearts, hope to undie.

It used to be that we humans captured correspondence, photographs, and various ephemera on paper, which could preserved for posterity by an archivist. But as we embraced the digital era, our lives slowly shifted with us. Now, instead of a file folder full of letters, Archives receives a primordial laptop with a new thing called “electronic mail” trapped inside; instead of an album with photographs pasted inside, we receive a late-90s flip phone, potentially holding any number of images captured by a state-of-the-art 0.3 megapixel camera.

Normally, library staff would treat these artifacts as they would paper records: arranging, describing, and preserving them so that the materials are available for future researchers to comb through. But right now, much of this information remains trapped on devices that are six feet under.

You can resurrect the digital historical record with the tangled cables of yesteryear’s electronics currently jumbling up your junk drawer!

What can I do?

Spread the word to all history-lovers, techies, and hoarders in your life; repost our hashtag on social media (#UndeadTech); share photos of your own overfilled cord drawer … and then donate those cords you can no longer use, or even identify.

With your donations, the soulless husks of old electronic devices can become #UndeadTech!

Remember to find a donation box at any Northwestern library in Evanston or Chicago, or mail your life-giving bounty to:

University Archives
Northwestern University Libraries
1970 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

*Note: We will treat anything that ends up in our donation bins as a donation – nothing will be returned after use. We also can’t promise to hang on to donations forever – duplicates may need to be discarded. But don’t worry, we’ll make sure they are recycled appropriately.

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