In the course of creating a browsable archive of the SLAC earliest websites, we discovered a number of interesting facts and features that might not be readily apparent on casual browsing. While surely not an exhaustive catalog, we hope that these observations will help you to quickly get into the archive and discover some of what it has to offer.
News and events
"We had no idea that we were making history and were just trying to get the job done in our 'spare' time',” Louise Addis, one of the WWWizards team who developed the SLAC website from 1991, said during our conversation about the restoration of SLAC's earliest website. Last May, Nicholas Taylor, web archiving service manager, told me, "SLAC has a historical collection of webpages that may be the first website in the US. Can we help them to find a home for this archive?” As Web archivist, I felt that I found a treasure. I replied, "Of course, Stanford Web Archive Portal should be the home."
One of the major use cases for the Web Archiving Service is preserving Stanford University web content. The earliest SLAC website represent the oldest such content we could find; it is the first website in the US dated to 1991, so we started there. Stanford Web Archiving Service launched its portal this week which featured SLAC's earliest website that was kept on SLAC servers for many years. This Halloween, it comes back to life. Our task was to convert the original list of scattered files into an accessible, browsable website with temporal navigation. In this post, I will discuss the technical challenges of and lessons learned from restoration process.
At a microscopic level, web archives document the evolution of individual websites. At a macroscopic level, they document the evolution of the Web itself. In the case of web archives for the period when the entire Web consisted of only a handful of individual websites, changes to even a single website reflect changes to the Web itself. We are pleased to announce the availability of such an archive, notably featuring the oldest U.S. website, dating to December 21, 1991.
A couple of weeks ago, Stanford University Libraries hosted Dame Wendy Hall, Jim Hendler, and other web scientists affiliated with the Web Science Trust for a briefing on the Web Observatory initiative and a follow-on workshop organized by Lisa Green from Common Crawl. The notion of a Web Observatory implies a center proferring scientific instruments, but for the analysis of web data rather than natural phenomena. Indeed, the group's vision is that Web Observatories provide access to web datasets, projects, and tools. Eventually, a network of Web Observatories might offer both an interoperable architecture and distributed infrastructures for sharing and analysis of web datasets. The initiative touches on several areas of interest and investment by Stanford University Libraries, including data curation, web archiving, and supporting social science research.