Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Archiving the Web in 2017

Throughout 2017 there was a renewed sense of urgency across organizations to document websites of state and government offices. In a recent update on partner program activities in the fall and winter of 2017, Archive-it explored highlights from the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), partnerships in the Community Webs Program for public libraries, and the second Documenting the Now symposium, Digital Blackness in the Archives

These efforts exemplify current trends in government and community web archiving. The MARAC conference panel, “Web Archiving Democracy,” was well-represented by panelists who discussed the current trajectory of web-archiving practices. Comprehensive documentation of a democracy requires transparency from the government and includes the voice of the people. Both areas present ongoing challenges for archiving the vast array of rapidly changing or disappearing web content.

On the one hand, discussions centered on evolving organizational perspectives on the nature of websites as documents and supplements to traditional government records. This includes filling in negative space by documenting peripheral websites that have been politically influential, such as grassroots and “fake news” sites. On the other hand, we also see efforts shift to a focus on people as the audience of web content, as researchers, and as community web archiving partners. These current trends in web archiving initiatives underscore the need for collaboration and partnerships, perhaps more than with any other information media.

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