Fabric of Digital Life or 'Fabric' is a research database and repository created by Dr. Isabel Pedersen and members of Decimal Lab at Ontario Tech University in Canada. Fabric now fosters a community of individuals that contribute to it, not only to its content but also to its metadata development and scholarly use, including Dr. Ann Hill Duin (University of Minnesota), Dr. Andrew Iliadis (Temple University), Dr. Jason Tham (Texas Tech University), and Dr. Tom Everrett (Canada Science and Technology Museum).
Fabric uses digital humanities, information science, digital rhetoric, and popular culture theories and methodologies to inspire its collection. International researchers and curators collect and catalogue digital artifacts (objects) surrounding the emergence of very personal and embodied technologies that promise to alter everyday life. The intent is to make this information open and available to the public. Fabric of Digital Life Archive is inspired by a famous prediction made by Chief Scientist at Xerox Parc, Mark Weiser, in 1991: “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”. We are beginning to see a critical mass of early inventions working toward this end and one goal for Fabric is to reveal this phenomenon.
Since 2013, Fabric of Digital Life has provided a means to track the emergence of platforms of human-computer interaction (HCI), also called personal technologies, through the language of invention: inventors’ concepts, entrepreneurial adventures, science fiction films, art, events, military innovation, video games, government ambitions, patents, news broadcasts, blogs, and advertising.
Given this connection with digital life, the main categories Fabric follows are technologies that are carryable, wearable, implantable, ingestible, embeddable, and robotical. However, these kinds of inventions function in rich ecosystems with other emergent technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart homes, social media, internet of things, cryptocurrencies, AI assistants, biotech and so many other contextualizing technologies.
Fabric's data ontology is based on the Dublin Core™ Metadata standard with some additional customized metadata fields. Its data model and archival practices allow for archivists, curators, and researchers to see trends in emergence through several methods of visualization. It uses CollectiveAccess, an open-source collections management and presentation software designed for museums, archives, and special collections.
Fabric lets you explore the nature of emergence, the discourses that surround it, the ways we participate with it, and the rhetoric that helps engender it. Fabric has been used extensively as a pedagogical aid for students learning about digital literacy. Instructors and student researchers have served as contributors, curators and editors for Fabric content. For the research community, It serves as a means to make scholarly research for articles, reports, or books open and available to the public in the form of humanities or social science datasets or 'collections'. However, we encourage people to simply explore, investigate, or reflect on the content, which now has a growing historical corpus of artifacts that predate the year 2000.
Use the Browse menu to explore items. Or, click on curated collections or HCI platforms on the right-hand menu. Search provides full-text search access to the corpus.