Friday, August 07, 2015

Big Web data, small focus: An ethnosemiotic approach to culturally themed selective Web archiving

Big Web data, small focus: An ethnosemiotic approach to culturally themed selective Web archiving. Saskia Huc-Hephe. Big Data & Society. July 2015.
     The fundamental purpose of a Web archive is to retain a version of the fragile and ephemeral digital material found on the Internet for posterity, thereby providing a lasting record of Web objects deemed to be of intellectual and cultural value to current and future generations. A web archive collects only material found on the Internet, safeguarding it from future obsolescence as the internet changes. It is not a record of data, nor a copy, but an entity composed of digital material brought together in a  more restricted environment. 

The article talks about curating a smaller, thematically selected web collection as part of a larger web archive, effectively an archive within an archive. An example is looking at the French community in London. The individual people may not see themselves as belonging to such a community, which questions the validity of constructing a ‘community’ web archive. So the archiving efforts are more creation than curation. One definition of digital curation is ‘maintaining, and adding value to, a trusted body of digital information for current and future use: in other words, it is the active management and appraisal of digital information over its entire life-cycle’. This definition may not fit with web archiving. The curator of a themed web collection is not necessarily a specialist in archival cataloguing or curation, has deep insider knowledge of the ‘field’ for which the collection has been created.

"The significance of the small-scale, micro-Web-archiving approach foregrounded lies in its deployment as a strategy for overcoming the ‘data deluge’ inevitably triggered by non-selective, catch-all repositories."

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