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Web archiving

logo of the Society of American Archivists

"What does it take to archive a linear foot of the Web?," Anna Perricci posed rhetorically to our web archiving metrics breakout discussion group two weeks ago. I don't yet have a good answer for what the question's getting at, but I was gratified by the level of interest and engagement in web archiving as archiving at the just-concluded Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting and inaugurally coscheduled Archive-It Partner Meeting.

logo of the 2015 Joint Conference on Digital Libraries

We've written before on our restoration of the oldest U.S. website, covering in detail how we did it and some interesting discoveries we made along the way. More recently, Web Archiving Engineer Ahmed AlSum prepared a visual diagram (see below) of the steps involved in packaging, indexing, and making accessible the legacy web content in a poster for the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL), an annual meeting sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) focused on research and development for digital libraries. Notably, the display won the Best Poster Award! We celebrate the continued community interest in Ahmed's innovative work.

winning poster for JCDL 2015, titled 'Reconstruction of U.S. First Website'

logo of the International Internet Preservation Consortium

A couple of weeks have passed since the successful conclusion of the annual IIPC General Assembly, hosted this year by Stanford University Libraries and Internet Archive. The meeting has been pretty well summarized already in posts by Sawood Alam, Jefferson Bailey, Emmanuelle Bermes, Tom Cramer, Carlos Eduardo Entini, and Ian Milligan. Rather than contributing another retrospective, I'd like to instead look ahead to 2016 and consider what the web archiving community might accomplish together in the coming year, highlighting some of the opportunities discussed and presented two weeks ago.

This past week saw the 2015 General Assembly of the IIPC, International Internet Preservation Coalition--probably the biggest week and biggest event of the year in the web archiving world. The IIPC has 50 members from 30 countries, and comprises the leading web archiving institutions in the world, including tons of national libraries, the Internet Archive, and a growing number of research institutions.

logo of the International Internet Preservation Consortium

Once each year, the international web archiving community represented by the International Internet Preservation Consortium meets for a week-long "General Assembly". As alluded to in my recap of the 2014 meeting, I'm pleased to belatedly announce that Stanford University is the confirmed host for the 2015 IIPC General Assembly as well as more promptly announce that registration is now open!

logo of the International Internet Preservation Consortium

We are pleased to announce the acceptance of our bid to join the IIPC Steering Committee, based on a vote by the IIPC membership. SUL joins the 15-member group as one of two currently-serving university library members (the other being the University of North Texas Libraries) and as the third university library to ever serve on the body (the other being the California Digital Library).

Yesterday the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its "Study of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program - Foreword, Findings, and Conclusions, and Executive Summary." (BIG PDF!) The report is 525 pages, heavily redacted, and includes graphic details about the torture techniques used by the CIA. The study found that American torture was not confined to a handful of aberrational cases or techniques, nor was it the work of rogue CIA agents. It was an officially sanctioned, worldwide (over 1/4 of the world's countries participated in some way!) regime of torture that had the acquiescence, if not explicit approval, of the top members of both political parties in Congress.

SLAC Early website "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.