On 22 April CFI will host a seminar about web archiving where visiting scholar Meghan Dougherty and CFI-member Niels Brügger will present their research.
Virtual Digs: Excavating, Preserving, and Archiving the Web
Meghan Dougherty, Assistant Professor, Digital Communication, Loyola University Chicago
The Web contains a wealth of information about institutions, governments, marketplaces, and societies. This information has potential to make up a rich digital historical record that is built by content producers, conserved and preserved stewards of cultural heritage, and invaluable as evidence of the cultural past for researchers in the social science and humanities. But this historical record is often overwritten with new status updates and revised sites. The Web is dotted with only occasional elements of permanence, which is still rather unreliable. We trust in the infrastructures built around Web content that aid in information seeking as the arbiters of what is current, true, vetted, and so worth remembering. And so every second that ticks by, crucial information in that unfolding historical record is lost.
There are a variety of approaches to Web archiving common in national libraries, but these often adapt traditional archival theories and practices to digital cultural landscapes. These efforts treat websites as documents that can provide evidence of the past. But this document-centric approach does not necessarily provide scholars of Web history with the archival records they need to conduct retrospective study of Web culture.
This lecture focuses on the research needs of humanities and social science scholars, the nature of observation and objects of study online, and how to ethically collect evidence for the purpose of study and for a robust and replicable scholarly knowledge base.
Probing a nation’s web sphere
Niels Brügger, Associate Professor, Aarhus University, Head of the Centre for Internet Studies
With a view to discussing and illustrating one of the possible roles of the web within historiography this presentation will focus on an aspect of the web which media, communication, and internet historians (and historians in general) does usually not consider either an object of study or a historical source, namely a nation’s web sphere: What does ’a nation’s web’ actually look like? And how to study a nation’s web sphere and it's developments over time?
In this presentation some of the methodological challenges that this new type of historical study and historical source material puts on the research agenda are discussed, and an analytical design is outlined. The presentation will use Denmark and the material in the national Danish web archive Netarkivet as a case. However, all the debated methodological challenges are generic and will therefore in the main apply to any country.
The seminar takes place from 14:00 to 16:00 at room 333 in the Ada-building.