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Web Archives and Digital Methods

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Historically, the practice of web archiving has involved various institutions and the development of various practices, approaches and tools. Among them, three main approaches to web archiving have been developed: web archive research using the Internet Archive and Wayback Machine, the practice of archiving special collections of websites, and the national approach of archiving webs of specific countries. These approaches and practices do not only reflect the time in which they were conceived in the history of web archiving, but also put forward distinct ways in which they may be used and consequently what type of historiographical research can be done with them. However, there are also limits to what these tools and practices offer. The purpose of this talk is to introduce the limits of doing research with the Internet Archive with existing tools such as the Wayback Machine and in addition, to show how digital methods are used to repurpose the Wayback Machine in order to go beyond the single-site historical research that is enabled by the Internet Archive. This will be illustrated in a case study on the Dutch blogosphere where by means of custom tools built on top of the Wayback Machine yearly snapshots of the historical Dutch blogosphere were created between 1999-2009. By reconstructing the interlinked set of blogs, the blogosphere, one can trace and map transitions in linking technologies and practices in the Dutch blogosphere over time. This approach allows for studying the emergence and decline of blog platforms and social media platforms within the blogosphere and for investigating local blog cultures.

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Web Archives and Digital Methods

  1. 1. Web Archives and Digital MethodsReconstructing the Dutch Blogosphere with the Internet Archive Anne Helmond www.digitalmethods.net NWO CATCH Meeting "Supporting Media Studies Research: Exploration and Contextualization" by BRIDGE on 22 June 2012, at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in HilversumTomás Saraceno, galaxies forming along filaments, Venice Biennial 2009
  2. 2. the digital methods initiativewww.digitalmethods.net
  3. 3. a history of web archiving 1. Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine (1996 - ) 2. Web sphere analysis and special collections (1999 - ) 3. The national turn (late 90s - )See: Rogers, Richard. ‘The Website as Archived Object.’in: Digital Methods. MIT Press, forthcoming.
  4. 4. a history of web archiving1. Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine (1996 - )
  5. 5. a history of web archiving2. Web sphere analysis and special collections (1999 - )
  6. 6. a history of web archiving3. The national turn (late 90s - )
  7. 7. web archives & types of historiographies "[U]nlike other well-known media, the Internet does not simply exist in a form suited to being archived, but rather is first formed as an object of study in the archiving, and it is formed differently depending on who does the archiving, when, and for what purpose" (Brügger, 2005).See: Rogers, Richard. ‘The Website as Archived Object.’in: Digital Methods. MIT Press, forthcoming.
  8. 8. web archives & types of historiographies 1. Wayback machine produces single site histories: "biographical" historiography 2. Special collections focuses on elections and disasters: "event-based" historiography 3. National web archives focus on own portion of web "national historiography"See: Rogers, Richard. ‘The Website as Archived Object.’in: Digital Methods. MIT Press, forthcoming.
  9. 9. Internet Archive use: the limitsInput: Query. No search. Jump-cuts through time
  10. 10. Internet Archive use (digital methods)Single website history - Capture history of website, andplayback as screencast documentary (time-lapsed photography)
  11. 11. "Google and the politics of tabs" by Govcom.org, Amsterdam, 2008.
  12. 12. Internet Archive use (digital methods)Collection making. Build collections from the archive(e.g., Dutch extremist sites by NRC Handelsblad)
  13. 13. Internet Archive use (digital methods)Capture periods of web history. Early blogosphere. Showwhat is missing from archive. Also give missing sites context.
  14. 14. Internet Archive use (digital methods)Historical link analysis Ammann, R. (2009) Stevenson, M. et al (2009)
  15. 15. Internet Archive use (digital methods)Historical link analysis over time Ben-David, A. (2011)
  16. 16. case studyReconstructing the Dutch Blogosphere with the Internet Archive Weltevrede & Helmond, 2012
  17. 17. “not tonight dear, I’m busy playing with weblog software”

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