UK Web Archive blog

Information from the team at the UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites

The UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites

Introduction

News and views from the British Library’s web archiving team and guests. Posts about the public UK Web Archive, and since April 2013, about web archiving as part as non-print legal deposit. Editor-in-chief: Jason Webber. Read more

09 June 2021

Alternative Sports in the UK Web Archive - Part 1

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, British Library

Welcome to the UK Web Archive 'Summer of Sport' season! Over the next few months we will show the many ways that sport is represented in the web archive.

Let's start with some of the more quirky and unusual 'sports' played in the UK:

Cheese Rolling Championship

Brave competitors chase a wheel of cheese down the terrifyingly steep Cooper's hill (1 in 1 in places) in Gloucestershire. First one to the bottom is the winner! The prize is a 7-8lb wheel of Double Gloucester cheese!

Cheese Rolling Championship website

The official Cheese Rolling Championship website in 2008.

The Chap Olympiad

What sport can there be for the well dressed 'person-about-town'? The 'Chap Olympiad' of course.

"A series of challenges ensue ranging from the frantic and frenetic to the barely mobile. The Tea Pursuit and Umbrella Jousting (where participants clamber aboard a bike holding an umbrella and a briefcase) see what is possibly the first use of Boris bikes as part of a sporting contest. The Tug Of Hair pits two teams against each other, pulling on a twenty feet long moustache until one team topples over. In Well-Dressage, individuals mount hobbyhorses and prance around to music while Not Tennis is the epitome of anti-sport with two players invited to do anything but play tennis."

Chap olympiad - Londonist website

Photos of the Chap Olympiad from the Londonist website in 2016.

Bog Snorkeling

If an athlete is not afraid of a spot of mud, what better event than the Bog Snorkeling Championships! Competitors aim to complete two consecutive lengths of a 60 yards (55 m) water-filled trench cut through a peat bog in the shortest time possible, wearing traditional snorkel, diving mask and flippers.

"Event rules state that no recognised swimming strokes are allowed at the event so it all comes down to honing down the perfect technique to power through the murky water."

Bog snorkling - Visit Wales Blog

Bog Snorkeling on the Visit Wales website from April 2013

World Conker Championships

Threading a piece of string through a horse chestnut seed and hitting another one has been a long standing feature of school playgrounds. Conkers, however, is a serious business and over a thousand are used in each World Championship contest!

World conker championships

Photo of the World Conker Championship 2016.

BBC News article on the World Conker Championship in 2004.

Summary
We aim to capture all aspects of UK life including the sporting life. If you have a UK sport website that you would like to suggest for the web archive, nominate it here.

#WebArchiveSummerOfSport

 

07 June 2021

Curating the UKWA LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection

By Ash Green and Steven Dryden - LGBTQ+ Lives Online lead curators

The LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection has been live now for almost a year. This has given us the time to gain a better understanding of the content in it, and also how people are interacting with the collection. Based on this, we wanted to consider some of the challenges around structuring, tagging and representing sites within it.

Sub-Collections & Subject tagging

When the collection was set up, one of the tasks that needed to be undertaken was defining the structure of the sub-collections. At this stage they are organised as follows:

  • Activism/Pride
  • Arts, Literature, Music & Culture
  • Business/Commerce
  • Education
  • History
  • Medicine and Community
  • Policy and Legislative Change
  • Religion
  • Social Organisations
  • Sport

We defined the sub-collections based on what we thought would be added to the collection, without actually knowing what the majority of that content might be. As more sites have been added we can see that some sub-collections work well and others not so well. We are getting a sense of which sub-collections might need to be revisited.

One sub-collection that at this stage requires more consideration in terms of whether it should be changed or split, is Medicine & Community. When we set this up, it felt like a logical pairing – both aspects of the sub-collection are about well-being, with one indicating it’s about medical support, and the other about wellness achieved through peer support. But now, as we add more sites to this sub-collection, the terminology doesn’t feel quite right. This is especially true when sites focused more on well-being, emotional support and guidance, such as Spectra and Outline Surrey are included in the sub-collection. Possibly a more appropriate sub-collection name would be Health & Community, which would still allow the inclusion of medical and community wellness, but under a clearer umbrella.

No homophobia, no violence t-shirt

When the collection was set up, Retirement also featured as a sub-collection. We eventually removed this before go-live. Not because it wasn’t relevant, but because there was insufficient online content within the collection to justify including it at this stage. That said, that may change over time and an increase in sites focusing on both retirement and older LGBTQ+ people’s lives may result in us re-instating it or a similar sub-collection. Similarly, other themes might rise out of existing sites in the collection that would require new sub-collections to be added, or even new subjects to be included. Part of the key purpose of the collection is to not only archive appropriate web sites, but to also make them findable via the sub-collections.

As well as adding sites to sub-collections within the LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection, they can also be assigned to other collections and sub-collections. For example, Graces Cricket Club (a gay cricket club) appear in both the LGBTQ+ Lives Online / Sport sub-collection and the separate Sport: Football collection. In cases like this, there’s no question that it’s perfectly appropriate to include this site in both subject collections. However, in some instances, LGBTQ+ sites have also been previously included in inappropriate sub-collections. For example, one site in the collection had previously been assigned to Medicine and Health / Conditions & Diseases sub-collection before the LGBTQ+ Lives

Online project began. This incorrectly implied that being an LGBTQ+ person was either a “condition” or a “disease”. This has been corrected, but it highlights that we also need to be aware that choosing which collection or sub-collection we add a site to has implications about how a curator perceives that site, and the negative bias we may in turn present to collection users by including a site in an inappropriate sub-collection.

Content Warnings
Another area we are considering is content warnings. When we recently ran an online session about the collection, we were asked if any content warnings were included in the descriptions of sites tagged within the collection. Another person also expressed concern about the inclusion of sites within the LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection that were negative or hostile towards members of the LGBTQ+ community. Though these sites are included, they do not provide content warnings about their harmful and negative perspectives or context about their inclusion. Again, this is a valid comment, and content warnings would help identify that users were about to enter a site whose perspectives might be problematic or triggering.

Keyboard - caution

You may also be wondering why sites such as the ones that are negative or hostile towards members of the LGBTQ+ community are included in the collection? It goes back to the purpose of this project, which is to archive UK sites that reflect UK LGBTQ+ lives and experiences. This includes positive, neutral and negative sites if relevant. For example, we include at least one site in the collection that questions the validity of trans and gender non-conforming people as apart of the LGBTQ+ community. If we didn’t include this site, it would not give a balanced picture of trans people’s experience, as it would miss out on a key factor that has had a huge impact on many trans lives over the past few years. As such, even though we do not agree with questioning the validity of trans and gender non-

conforming people, those sites are valid to LGBTQ+ research and discussion. But it’s not just sites like these that we would consider including a content warning against. Any sites highlighting LGBTQ+ phobic or hate content may also be included.

Content warnings are not something we’ve considered before, and at present, the cataloguing rules for the UK Web Archive collection don’t have capacity for the inclusion of content warnings. However, following on from these conversations, it is something we need to address, along with highlighting that including content within the collection does not necessarily mean that the curators agree with the opinions in those sites.

The structure of the sub-collections and content warnings are areas that we want to address as soon as we can, and it is something we would like to discuss with the wider LGBTQ+ community. How we achieve that is yet to be decided, but we are always open to suggestions.

In the mean-time, don’t forget that you can explore the LGBTQ+ Lives Online UK Web Archive collection.

You can also nominate sites for inclusion in the collection.

 

18 May 2021

International Museums Day 2021

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, British Library

To celebrate both International Museums Day and the re-opening of many of the museums themselves (following a period of lockdown in the UK), this post aims to show just some of the cultural organisation websites that we have in the web archive.

National Museums
The UK has some of the most famous museums in the world, few more so than the Victoria and Albert Museum. The UK Web Archive has been collecting the V&A website since 2008. See how the website itself has changed and remind yourself of the many wonderful exhibitions that have been shown in that time.

V&A website 2008

Our colleagues at the UK Government Web Archive, based at the National Archives, keep copies of the National Museums' websites. See the Natural History Museum website from 2004. I actually worked on the web team at the NHM at this time and added many of the elements on view here.

NHM Website 2004

Museums
The UK is rich with many hundreds of fantastic museums covering every aspect of life and history. From Witchcraft to lawnmowers and even pencils. Here are some other examples that we are able to publicly display:

The Cinema Museum (copy from 2010) is devoted to keeping alive the spirit of cinema from the days before the multiplex.

The Cinema Museum website 2010

The Hunterian Museum (copy from 2013), part of the University of Glasgow, and founded in 1807 it is Scotland's oldest public museum and home to one of the largest collections outside the National Museums. 

Huntarian Museum website

Local Authorities do amazing work supporting the local museums across the UK. Here is one example, Wrexham Museum (copy from 2013) in Wales.

Wrexham Museum website

Who archives the archives and collects the collectors?
We aim to carchive the websites of all UK museums, whatever the size. If you know of a UK Museum website that we should add, contact us here: www.webarchive.org.uk/nominate