Web Archives for Historians

Interdisciplinary Event Documentation: “The Great WARC Adventure”

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Nick Ruest, Anna St-Onge, and myself wrote a piece in the open-access journal Digital Studies / Le champ numérique, “The Great WARC Adventure: Using SIPS, AIPS, and DIPS to Document SLAPPS.” The deliberately acronym-heavy title underlies a piece that does the following:

While the long publishing time meant that some of our more recent approaches to analyzing web archives – warcbase, for example – didn’t make it in, the article hopefully provides a useful conceptual approach to working with web archives.

You can find the article here, and abstract below. We hope that you enjoy it!

English-language abstract:

This paper outlines the circumstances surrounding a libel case that was filed against academic librarian Dale Askey by publisher Herbert Richardson and his company Edwin Mellen Press, the resulting online debate, protest, and advocacy, and the effort by a small team to capture, preserve, and make available preserved websites related to the event. Ruest, a programmer and archivist-librarian, presents the technical aspects of capturing and preserving WARC files. St.Onge, an archivist, reflects on some of the challenges of creating a traditional finding aid to contextualize and provide access to the collected electronic content. Milligan, a historian, discusses some preliminary findings based on analysis of the data set. Finally, the authors reflect on the issues brought to the surface by their engagement with questions of academic freedom, librarianship, and public advocacy and on how smaller groups of like-minded professionals can preserve online material whose afterlife might otherwise prove fleeting.

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