Why web archiving?

It is a great pleasure to be joining old colleagues and to work with new  at ULCC to help deliver Web Archiving 101 for the first time. But why archive the web at all ? Isn’t it all just pornography and pictures of cats?

My first answer is the reason I first became involved with web archiving, first at the Institute of Historical Research and then as part of the UK Web Archive team at the British Library. As an historian of contemporary Britain, it became clear to me that much of the activity that a historian of the 1920s or the 1980s can study in printed literature has now migrated online, but that neither libraries and archives nor scholars had begun to catch up with what was a very rapid transition in the nineties and noughties. Both professional historians and anyone else with a need to know about the recent past will be unable to understand our times without reference to the archived web.

Web archiving is also now being recognised as a key part of the institutional memory of organisations, in all sectors, both public and private. And there is also a recognition that web archiving is not easily bolted onto the existing tasks of archivists and record managers without careful thought; and that it is many ways a distinctive part of the wider field of digital preservation.

Both these reasons would be less compelling if were not for the fact that the web changes and decays at a remarkable rate – and so the web is not its own archive, as many people imagine. Recent episodes such as the removal of historic speeches from the Conservative Party website illustrate the point that content is constantly being removed from the web intentionally. Other studies point to the speed in which content not only disappears but is also amended and updated, or migrates to new locations.  (See a summary of some of these studies at Historians and Web Archives.)

Archivists, record managers, the leaders of their organisations, and scholars of every discipline need to engage with web archiving. I hope that Web Archiving 101 will help that engagement along.

DPTP: Web Archiving 101- A New Course



The Sphinx, does, of course, know the answers to all riddles, including, we assume, how to archive the web… Image from the British Library Flickr stream, no known copyright.

We are pleased to announce a new course in the Digital Preservation Training Programme – ‘Web Archiving 101′. This course is a 1-day course and will take place at Senate House on 12th May 2015. The day will be a mix of tutor-led learning, discussion and group exercises. We won’t be offering ‘hands-on’ in the sense of using tools, but the focus is very much on the practical. If you create and/or use  web-based information and resources for research and you have an interest ensuring that such web content can persist and endure in an accessible and usable preservation environment, then this event will be of interest to you.

This course grew out of our re-working of our core DPTP course last year. At that time, we decided to create two new courses, an introduction course and an intermediate course, and in doing so, we reviewed all our existing content very thoroughly. We used to run a web archiving module on the original DPTP course, but times, we felt had moved on. Web archiving had grown significantly in since the original course was designed, and we no longer had the time within a broader course to do it justice. What to do? After much heart searching, we took the module out of the 2 and 3 day courses. However, we still felt there was a strong interest in the area, and so the idea of a ‘101’ course, just focusing on web archiving, was born.

We have been very lucky to work with Peter Webster, a long-established expert in this field, in the design of this new one-day course. Peter will also be teaching on the course, along with Steph Taylor and Ed Pinsent, the regular DPTP tutors, and Sara Day Thomson, a project officer with the  DPC, who will be sharing her knowledge about and research into the issues of archiving social media.

There is more information about the course on our website, and you can now book in the ULC shop.

Preservation Planning – DPC Technology Bytes Webinar


Image, (including cropped title) from the British Library Flickr stream, no known copyright

On Wednesday (25th March) Ed and I did our first ever webinar. We had been invited by the DPC to run a session on preservation planning tools and approaches in their  current ‘Technology Bytes’ series of webinars. It was a new experience to be a presenter, although having joined some of the live webinars in the past, and also listened to the recorded versions of others, I was aware of the general flow. After some excellent instructions from Sarah Middleton of DPC and a short walkthrough of what we would actually be doing as presenters on the day, and we were all set.

We have been looking at (and discussing)  preservation planning in some detail recently, in relation to our DPTP courses. We realised that the term ‘planning’ can, in digital preservation, have a variety of meanings, all of which are important. We had come up with six broad categories, and explored the tools and approaches to these areas for the webinar. It was a really useful session for us. The Technology Bytes format is very much about supporting a conversation with the participants rather than just sending out an old-style lecture into the ether. Getting feedback, suggestions and the sharing of experiences with the participants was brilliant.

Thanks to everyone who took part, and to DPC for inviting us to run a session. If your organisation is a member of DPC, you can login and see the full recording plus slides. If you aren’t a DPC member, we have put our slides, including a list of resources we refer to in the presentation, up on the ULCC Slideshare account, which is open to everyone.  We’d love to carry on talking about this area, so please feel free to comment below, and we will respond.

#NoDigitalDarkAge – The Podcast

After a couple of days of the Twitter explosion of fantastic digital preservation tweets, we got together to chat about that interview and that article. We’ve been planning a series of podcasts on all things digital preservation for some time, but the lively discussions here at ULCC and all the great projects we saw from our community have inspired us to start the series with a discussion about both a ‘digital dark age’ and the #NoDigitalDarkAge campaign.

So, here is Episode 1 of the ULCC DART team podcasts – What Digital Dark Age?

Still Rolling On – #NoDigitalDarkAge Part 2


William Kilbride, the man behind the #NoDigitalDarkAge hashtag, asked for more – and he got it! Day 2 of the Twitter campaign saw even more examples of the people, organisations and projects engaging in digital preservation. There were so many, we decided to just add to our existing Storify from yesterday. Starting with the latest at our time of capture today, see the second day of digital preservation goodness…



ULCC is a good place to find out about digital preservation! #nodigitaldarkage
ULCC is a good place to find out about digital preservation! #nodigitaldarkage

Today has been a really interesting day on Twitter for digital preservation. In response to an interview with the BBC given by a vice president and ‘Internet Evangalist’ at Google, Vint Cerf, in which he warned of a ‘digital dark age’ where we would lose everything that was digital, the Digital Preservation Coalition organised a Twitter campaign. They asked members to use the hashtag #nodigitaldarkage and to tweet about their work with digital preservation. There was a great response! not only did the digital preservation community in the UK rise to the challenge, but many from the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland joined in as well. Continue reading

The First DPTP Course of 2015



We were delighted to be able to offer our first Digital Preservation Training Programme course of 2015, our ‘Introduction to Digital Preservation’, on 19th and 20th January. Our ‘Intro’ course is always very popular with students and this course was no exception. Despite the course starting on Blue Monday, we had an enthusiastic and engaged group who were, like previous groups, fun to teach. They brought along examples of their own work and why they wanted to start to implement digital preservation in a wide variety of projects. Breaks and lunchtimes were filled with chat and questions as everyone shared their projects with each other. Continue reading

#24DaysofDP – what we did in December


I promised in a previous post that I would share the rest of our tweets in the advent campaign. I had originally planned to do this on a weekly basis, so people would be able to get an overview of each week, but, as with many good ideas, life got in the way. Anyway, for those people who would like to have a complete set of links, they are now all together in one place.

Thanks to everyone who re-tweeted, favourited, tweeted back and booked courses! It was great to have so much interest, and lovely to chat with you all on Twitter.

Look out for another set of  #DP later on in 2015.


The new EPSRC guidelines

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) guidelines: What are they and how can you meet them?

After receiving an increasing number of enquiries about the new EPSRC guidelines which are coming into effect in May 2015, I decided to catch up with Kevin Ashley, Director, Digital Curation Centre, my colleagues Rory McNicholl and Timothy Miles-Board, and Matthew Addis, CTO at Arkivum to get a better understanding of what the requirements are and how institutions can meet them.

Q: When looking into the EPSRC guidelines on research funding, I couldn’t help but notice them being not as tightly defined as I would have thought. Is that deliberate?

KA: I think it is, and there are perfectly valid reasons for it, but some are uncomfortable with that. The flexibility allows for different responses from larger and smaller institutions – you just need to be able to defend what you do.

MA: This largely due to the variety of research projects and their differing objectives, both in terms of brief and data output. Some might have a mandate to be publicly accessible first, others will focus on the safety and security of the research data before being concerned about dissemination of research findings. Continue reading