Saturday, September 03, 2011

Memory failure detected.

Memory failure detected. THE: Times Higher Education. 1 September 2011.
In the future, researchers will have an incomplete record about events taking place in our day: much of the material was never stored or has been only partially archived.  The extent to which content disappears without trace from the web is worrying. Not enough academics are engaging with the topic. "We are taking it for granted that such material will be there, but we need to be attentive. We have a responsibility to future generations of researchers."  "These issues are long term and worthy of investment," The Internet Archive is the most comprehensive of the web archives with more than 150 billion pages from more than 100 million sites [but these are often only partial pages].

There are also smaller-scale selective archives. Websites are collected around topics, themes or events chosen by library curators, with sites harvested only when the copyright holder's permission has been obtained. The approach lacks breadth, but as the operation is smaller, individual websites can be captured more comprehensively. Most news content that is published only online is simply falling through the cracks. "But the web archiving community's current practices, the report continues, are producing something that is in danger of ending up as a "dusty archive". In this scenario, archiving technology keeps pace with the latest developments and archives are well curated and maintained, but they sit largely unused, gathering "digital dust". "As is too often the case with those who build resources, they are preserving websites without giving any real thought to how they might be used in the future."

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