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Webrecorder Makes Web Preservation Personal

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#1 Stephane Dumas

Stephane Dumas


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Posted 26 September 2016 - 06:08 AM

I spotted that article about archiving more web stuff for the preservation like the website Wayback Machine alias Internet Archive and Archive.is did. I quoted an exterpt.



Today’s social media landscape is broad and deep. Across the globe, people are involved in discussing, uploading, downloading, networking, linking, blogging, streaming, gaming, podcasting, bookmarking, learning, and sharing. Rhizome, an international art organization, has released Webrecorder, an innovative tool that is intended to help save parts of the internet and give anyone future access to and use of it.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Qatar Computing Research Institute recently studied the impact of social media on the development of movements such as the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter. They found that “social media has been instrumental in driving and supporting sociopolitical movements throughout the world.” It has opened an entirely new area of scholarly study across the globe. For information professionals, the problems of identifying, accessing, and preserving this enormous and growing corpus of information are deeper than ever imagined. The temporary nature of internet information—and the involvement of the private sector in asserting ownership and access privileges—makes the careful consideration and preservation of key resources a difficult task. The New York Times Magazine sums this up perfectly: “If we archive it, the Internet will one day be an incredible source for future historians. It might even change what history is.”

Opening Web Archiving to the World

In botany, rhizomes are continuously growing underground plant stems that put out lateral shoots and roots—making weed removal difficult. Philosophers have also used the concept of rhizomes to mean “ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.” According to this model of society, “culture spreads like the surface of a body of water, spreading towards available spaces or trickling downwards towards new spaces through fissures and gaps, eroding what is in its way. The surface can be interrupted and moved, but these disturbances leave no trace, as the water is charged with pressure and potential to always seek its equilibrium, and thereby establish smooth space.”

Trying to fit the development of today’s social media into established patterns of social theory that have evolved over centuries is challenging, as is the issue of accessing, archiving, and maintaining content that is far more ephemeral than the types of media maintained and used for research in the past.

Artist Mark Tribe started Rhizome to create a community among online artists. It “has played an integral role in the history, definition, and growth of contemporary art engaged with technology and the internet. Today, Rhizome commissions, exhibits, preserves, and creates critical discussion around digital art,” according to its About page. In January 2016, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Rhizome a $600,000 grant—the largest it had ever received—to develop Webrecorder as a digital archiving platform for “interfaces, photos, video, and other ‘rich’ content, making it ideal for storing online and social media-based artworks.”

Webrecorder was developed by Ilya Kreymer, who previously worked on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and oldweb.today (a system to combine web archives with emulated, or virtual, browsers, which allows users to view old websites using a selection of old and/or new browsers).



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