Web Archives for Historians

So You’re a Historian Who Wants to Get Started in Web Archiving

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By Ian Milligan (University of Waterloo)

(Cross-posted and adapted from an earlier post I wrote for the IIPC’s blog)

The web archiving community is a great one, but it can sometimes be a bit confusing to enter. Unlike communities such as the Digital Humanities, which has developed aggregation services like DH Now, the web archiving community is a bit more dispersed. But fear not, there are a few places to visit to get a quick sense of what’s going on. Here I just want to give a quick rundown of how you can learn about web archiving on social media, from technical walkthroughs, and from blogs.

I’m sure I’m missing stuff – let us all know in the comments!

Social Media

A substantial amount of web archiving scholarship happens online. I use Twitter (I’m at @ianmilligan1), for example, as a key way to share research findings and ideas that I have as my project comes together. I usually try to hashtag them with: #webarchiving. This means that all tweets that people use “#webarchiving” with will show up in that specific timeline.

For best results, using a Twitter client like Tweetdeck, Tweetbot, or Echofon can help you keep appraised of things. There may be Facebook groups – I actually don’t use Facebook (!) so I can’t provide much guidance there.

Technical Walkthroughs

You actually need some technical skills to work with web archives. For starters, if you just want to look at web pages, you can just use the Wayback Machine. But if you’ve got a directory of ARCs or WARCs, or reach out to a librarian who gives you a dump of them, you might want to work out on some workshops or walkthroughs:

Many of these require knowledge of a command line, but fear not – the Programming Historian is on it!

Blogs

I’m wary of listing blogs, because I will almost certainly leave some out. Please accept my apologies in advance and add your name in the comments below! But a few are on my recurring must-visit list (in addition to this one, of course!):

Again, I am sure that I have missed some blogs so please accept my sincerest apologies.

In-Person Events

The best place to learn is in-person events, of course, which are often announced at places like this blog or in many of the above mediums! I hope that the IIPC blog can become a hub for these sorts of things.

Conclusions

I hope this is helpful for people that are starting out in this wonderful field. I’ve just provided a small slice: I hope that in the comments below people can give other suggestions which can help us all out!

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