Kyle Bickoff is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, working at the intersections of digital studies, media archaeology, and critical information studies. His in-progress dissertation, The Containerization of Knowledge, follows the rise of information storage containers used to house collections at memory institutions like libraries, archives, and museums. He traces the history of information storage units from the wooden Woodruff File, the steel archival tray, and the paper Hollinger Box, to digital containers including Docker containers (for virtualized applications), the Matroska Multimedia Container, and the Library of Congress BagIt format. Containers shape contemporary information systems and are the basic unit of storage not only in personal computing, but also in institutional databases and commercial cloud data centers. In the US alone, there are over 1,200 archives and 119,000 libraries–their physical shelves and the surfaces of their hard drive platters alike are filled with containers. By tracing the historical, economic, and cultural factors in the turn to containerization, his dissertation reveals how the individual container has shaped our infrastructures of knowledge, and assembled them as an agglomeration of containers.
Kyle is currently the Spring 2019 Winnemore Dissertation Fellow at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH). He has previously worked as and instructor of courses including Digital Studies, Film Studies, and Academic Writing (among others) at the University of Maryland. Kyle is the former Site Manager of Romantic Circles, and he worked as a Graduate Assistant on the BitCurator project for MITH. Kyle received his M.A. in English Literature at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2014. He has worked at the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL) as Lab Manager and at the Archives and Special Collections Department for the University of Colorado Libraries where he worked with born-digital & print collections and helped to maintain legacy hardware. He received his B.A. in English Literature at the University of Florida, graduating Summa cum Laude, where he focused on film and media studies & film production.