Sunday, April 29, 2012

Web Archives for Researchers: Representations, Expectations and Potential Uses.

Web Archives for Researchers: Representations, Expectations and Potential Uses. Peter Stirling, et al. D-Lib Magazine. March/April 2012.
Web archiving is one of the missions of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. This study looks at content and selection policy, services and promotion, and the role of communities and cooperation.  While the interest of maintaining the "memory" of the web is obvious to the researchers, they are faced with the difficulty of defining, in what is a seemingly limitless space, meaningful collections of documents. Cultural heritage institutions such as national libraries are perceived as trusted third parties capable of creating rationally-constructed and well-documented collections, but such archives raise certain ethical and methodological questions.

To find source material on the web, some researchers look for non-traditional sources, such as blogs and social networks.  Researchers recognize the value of web archives, especially because websites disappear or change quickly.  The Internet is no longer just a place for publishing things, “but rather the traces left by actions that people could equally perform in the streets or in a shop: talking to people, walking, buying things... It can seem improper to some to archive anything relating to this kind of individual activity. On the other hand, one of the researchers acknowledges that archiving this material would provide a rich source for research in the future, and thus compares archiving it to archaeology.”  Some ask, "How do you archive the flow of time?" New models may be needed. And when selecting an archive, the selection criteria should also be archived, as they may change over time.

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