Tracing traces: a document-centred approach to the preservation of virtual world communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction. The aim of this paper is to form a framework capable of theorizing how virtual communities are entangled with their new media environments, thereby contributing to the understanding of present-day virtual communities and how to preserve them. Method. An extensive bibliography on virtual worlds, virtual world preservation, document-and practice theory, and virtual communities forms the conceptual basis of the paper. Analysis. The proposed framework was formed by the way of qualitative and synthetic conceptual analysis of the collected literature. Results. Virtual world communities can be fruitfully conceptualized as distinct domains with specialized documentary practices. In each domain of practice, the virtual world's related new media ecology functions as a central hub where the configuration of shared routinized sayings, doings, and knowings specific to that virtual world are negotiated. Conclusion. By theorizing the activities of virtual communities in new media environments as documentary practices, and blog posts, comments, and tweets as documents, the framework accentuates new media as infrastructures that do not solely carry informative traces of the activities of virtual communities, but in effect are an active and formative part of them. As such, they merit high preservation priority.


  • Olle Sköld
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Information Studies
Original languageEnglish
Article numberC09
JournalInformation Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch