News and events

logo graphic appearing on the "SLAC Home Page" 1994-1995

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.

The website amounts to but five pages of the thousands of historical SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory web pages and related assets from 1991-1999 that we are making accessible. The archive is the result of an intensive collaboration and digital archaeology effort undertaken by Stanford University Libraries, the SLAC Archives and History Office, and alumni of the SLAC "WWW Wizards" group, and it is being launched co-incident with the year-long celebrations of the Web's 25th anniversary.

You can browse the web archive as you would any other website, but with added controls for temporal navigation, via the newly-deployed Stanford Web Archive Portal. You can learn more about the context and history of the early Web at SLAC via the online exhibit on the SLAC Archives and History Office website. Follow this blog or bookmark this post (to be updated) for links to follow-up posts later this week about interesting discoveries we made in exploring the archive and challenges encountered during the restoration process.

Please contact us with any feedback or questions. We hope that you enjoy exploring this important piece of the early Web!

'The Dish (HDR)' (under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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.

'Step 7' (under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A major challenge for web archivists is the low visibility that downstream archiving has on upstream web content creation. And, yet, deliberate and inadvertent architectural decisions made by web content creators strongly impact the ease or difficulty with which their websites can be captured and faithfully re-presented. A non-trivial byproduct of webmasters helping to ensure their content is archived for their own later use is that the Web itself becomes more archivable, to everyone's benefit.

logo of the International Internet Preservation Consortium

Web archivists Ahmed AlSum and Nicholas Taylor and LOCKSS Chief Scientist David Rosenthal recently attended the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) General Assembly, an annual meeting of national libraries, research universities, non-profits, and service providers engaged in web archiving. This was the first General Assembly we all attended since Stanford University Libraries (SUL) joined the IIPC, though we had all previously attended meetings under the auspices of other organizations.