Web Archives and the Ephemerality of Digital Media
Presentation by Anne Helmond in the ASCA seminar and research group Moving Images: Preservation, Curation, Exhibition.
In this session, I would like to discuss the challenges and opportunities of web archiving and archived web materials. On the one hand, the web is characterised as a medium that never forgets, while, on the other hand, it is seen as extremely ephemeral. Websites, social media platforms, and mobile apps are contemporary digital media objects that are subject to continuous change and which overwrite their own histories with each update. This issue raises a number of important questions: How can we gain an understanding of the past of these internet- based digital media objects? What materials are available to us to write their histories? What kinds of historical studies do archived web materials enable? And how does web archiving differ from other kinds of archiving?
We will discuss some of these questions based on the new book The Archived Web by Niels Brügger (2018). Then, based on my own research and collaborative research conducted at the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam, I will introduce a number of approaches and tools that are available to us for writing web histories.
Brügger, N. 2018. The Archived Web: Doing History in the Digital Age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Chapter 1 + 5.
Helmond, A. 2017. “Historical website ecology. Analyzing past states of the web using archived
source code.” In: N. Brügger (ed.), Web 25: Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web, 139–155. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Please contact E.L.Masson@uva.nl for registration and a link to the preparatory reading.
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