THE BRITISH LIBRARY

UK Web Archive blog

48 posts categorized "Collections"

25 November 2020

LGBTQ+ Lives Online Web Archive Collection

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By Steven Dryden, British Library LGBTQ+ Staff Network & Ash Green CILIP LGBTQ+ Network

As you’ll have read on this blog, the collaboration with UK Web Archive (UKWA), British Library and CILIP LGBTQ+ Network to develop LGBTQ+ content within the UK Web Archive was launched during summer 2020.

Rainbow tapestry

LGBTQ+ content was already part of the UK Web Archive before the collaboration began, with many sites in other collections overlapping LGBTQ+ themes. For example, Black and Asian Britain (blackgayblog.com), Gender Equality (Beyond the Binary), Sport (Graces Cricket Club). And some sites cut across many collections, highlighting the intersectional nature of the UK Web Archive. For example, Gal-Dem features in the News Sites; Zines and Fanzines; Black and Asian Britain; Gender Equality; Women's Issues; Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights collections, as well as LGBTQ+ Lives Online. LGBTQ+ Lives Online, much like the lived experience of the LGBTQ+ does not sit in isolation, disconnected from other aspects of UK offline and online life. LGBTQ+ people play a part in all aspects of the UK community, and are not solely defined by their gender or sexual orientation.

This UK Web Archive collection doesn’t stand in isolation either, it enriches the scope of work already begun at The British Library.LGBTQ Histories aims to explore the experiences and stories encountered in the collections, posing questions about the lived experience of LGBTQ+ people throughout history.The LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection of the UK Web Archive plays a part in CILIP LGBTQ+ Network’s ambition to raise the profile of LGBTQ+ people, support the development of LGBTQ+ information resources and the work of LGBTQ+ Library, information and knowledge workers.

LGBTQ+ Lives Online Collection

UKWA 'ACT' tool

The collection currently contains over 400 sites and web pages in the main collection, with more of these being added to sub-collections every week. Many of the sites were already in the UKWA before the collaboration began, but were not linked to sub-collections. We are still at the stage where we are developing the structure of sub-collections but our initial indexes cover:

Since the launch of this collaborative project, we have been focused on a number of areas to both develop the project and to preserve sites within the collection. This includes:

  • Identifying sites already in the UK Web Archive to be added to the LGBTQ+ Lives Online sub-collections.
  • Identifying new sites not already in the UKWA to be included in the collection.
  • Spreading the word about the project as widely as possible via blog posts and articles such as this; social media; emails targeting specific LGBTQ+, library, and broader diversity organisations and networks.

You can browse through the collection here, and nominate a UK published site or webpage with a focus on LGBTQ+ lives to be included in the collection via: https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/info/nominate. We would especially like to see more nominations that reflect the multicultural nature of UK LGBTQ+ communities and the many diaspora communities based here, including UK sites written in languages other than English.

Though it can often be challenging for us to archive social media accounts, we are able to collect LGBTQ+ Twitter accounts. We have experimented with other methods of archiving social media but this is on a selective basis, but we would welcome nominations and projects that might address these challenges and how they might impact on archiving LGBTQ+ experience in the UK,

How can you access these archived websites?

UKWA search results page

Under the Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations 2013, the UKWA  can archive UK published websites, but are only able to make the archived version available to people outside the Legal Deposit Libraries Reading Rooms, if the website owner has given permission. The UK Legal Deposit Libraries are the British Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Dublin Library.  

Some of the websites in UKWA have already had permission granted, these include Out Stories Bristol, Trans Ageing and Care, Bi Cymru/Wales and Queer Zine Library. As the content of UKWA has mixed access, the message ‘Viewable only on Library premises’ will appear under the title of the website if you need to visit a Legal Deposit Library to view content. If there is no message underneath then the archived version of the website should be available on your personal device.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the reading rooms were closed for a number of weeks but are starting to reopen. This blog post gives an overview of opening hours and how to book a visit at the six UK Legal Deposit Libraries:

https://blogs.bl.uk/webarchive/2020/09/ukwa-available-in-reading-rooms-again.html 

Previous blog posts about the project can be viewed via the following links.

LGBTQ+ Lives Online project introduction

LGBTQ+ Lives Online: Introducing the Lead Curators

 

18 November 2020

2020 Domain Crawl Update

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By Andy Jackson, Web Archiving Technical Lead at the British Library

 

On the 10th of September the 2020 Domain Crawl got underway. The annual Domain Crawl usually takes about three months to complete, it visits UK published websites on a UK Top Level Domain (TLD) like .uk, .cymru, .scot, .london etc., any web content hosted on a server registered in the UK as well as all the records manually created by the UK Web Archive teams across the UK Legal Deposit Libraries

 

Update on crawl management

Due to the billions of URLs involved, the Domain Crawl is the most technically difficult crawl we run. As the crawl frontier grows and grows, the strain starts to show, particularly on the disk space required to store all of the status information about the URLs that have been crawled or are awaiting crawling. Worst of all, we found some mysterious problems with how Heritrix3 manages this information, meant that we could not safely stop and restart long crawls. We could usually restart once, but if we restarted again strange errors would appear, and sometimes these would be serious enough to cause the whole crawl to fail. Fortunately, in the last year, we finally tracked this down and updated the Heritrix3 crawler so that it can be safely stopped and restarted multiple times. 

This has made managing the crawler much easier, as we can stop and restart the crawl with confidence if we need to change the software or hardware setup. This makes managing things like disk space much less stressful.

 

Update on the crawl performance 

In the initial phase of the crawl, we threw in the roughly 11 million web hostnames that we have seen in past crawls, which then got whittled down to about 7 million active hosts. After this bumpy start and some system tuning, the crawl settled down and has been pretty consistently processing 250-300 URLs per second.  This is acceptable, but isn’t quite as fast as we would like, so we are analysing the crawl while it runs to try and work out where the bottlenecks are.

 

What we have collected so far

The figure below shows the URLs collected over time.

 

Graph illustrating the number of URLs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl
Graph illustrating the number of URLs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl

 

The rather jagged start shows where we were able to stop and start the crawl in order to tune the initial hardware setup, and the flatter ‘pauses’ later on are from other maintenance activities like growing the available disk space. The advantage of being able to re-tune the crawler as we go is shown by the way the line gets steeper over time, corresponding to the increased crawl rate.

 

In terms of bytes downloaded, we see a similar result:

Graph illustrating the number of TBs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl
Graph illustrating the number of TBs downloaded in the 2020 Domain Crawl

 

As you can see, we are rapidly approaching 90TB of downloaded data, which corresponds to roughly 50TB of compressed WARC.gz data.

Despite starting the crawl relatively late in the year (due to issues around the COVID-19 outbreak), we are making good and stable progress and are on track to download over two billion URLs by the end of the year.

 

Follow the UK Web Archive on Twitter for the latest updates on the Domain Crawl and other web archiving activities! 

 

11 November 2020

How Remembrance Day has Changed

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By Liam Markey, PhD Student, University of Liverpool and the British Library

This blog examines how attitudes to Remembrance (or Armistice) day have changed and evolved over the course of the 20th century and beyond. Read the previous blog on 'Militarism and its role in the commemoration of British war dead' for background on the wider research project.

100 Years
2020 marks 100 years since the erection of a permanent Cenotaph at Whitehall and the interment of the Unknown Warrior in his tomb at Westminster. Along with the 2-minute silence, which was first observed in 1919, and the adoption of the poppy as the symbol of British commemoration in 1921, these practices have been ever present over the past century; they have become intrinsic components of the British collective identity in what is, arguably, a relatively short period of time.

Alleviating suffering and grief
Initially, this commemoration of the dead of the First World War performed two distinct purposes: firstly, practices served to alleviate the suffering of those who had lost loved ones. The bodies of the fallen were not repatriated, so the erection of monuments extolling the sacrifices of the war dead served as focal points of grief and mourning in local communities. Secondly, Remembrancetide (the time of year in which British rituals of commemoration are enacted) was initially a period in which support for disabled ex-servicemen, and those left widowed or orphaned by the First World War, was to be generated. Through the sale of poppies or direct donations, the British public was able to provide financial support for those in need. Collective mourning, such as at the Cenotaph where the monarchy and politicians gathered, was a demonstration of unity and a national thanksgiving to the war dead.

Attitudes to commemoration are not static
Whilst commemorative practices have remained practically unchanged over the past 100 years (only the day on which they are observed has been altered, and for the duration of the Second World War national services were suspended), the same cannot be said for the historical context in which they have been enacted, nor for the thoughts and ideals of those who enact them.

Newspaper Analysis
Analysing the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror newspapers, I have been able to create a small “pseudo” historiography of British attitudes towards commemoration throughout the 20th Century. The text samples from the two newspapers that I have examined range from the 7th -14th November at ten-year intervals starting in 1928 and contain at least one mention of the terms “Armistice” or “Remembrance.” The choice to search within this temporal parameter and for these specific terms was a conscious decision made so as to ensure that texts relating to both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday were collected and available for analysis. The intervals between samples was a deliberate choice so that each text is taken from a year in which a tenth anniversary of the First World War took place and, in theory, when coverage of the war in the media would be at a heightened state.

1928
The first text sample is taken from 1928, the ten-year anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in 1918 and provides the largest number of texts from any year. This is in most part due to the fact that the First World War was a relatively recent event at this point in time. The main emphasis of these texts is on how the British public can aid those left disabled by their experience of the First World War, either through donations to the British Legion’s poppy appeal or by direct purchasing goods made by ex-servicemen. The issue of ‘lasting peace’ is also brought up several times, with many believing that ten years having passed without another World War proves that the cause so many British soldiers died fighting for was not in vain. At this point in time, when commemoration was in many ways an expression of a commitment to peace, the majority of the British public seemed convinced that it was fulfilling its purpose.

1938
However, by 1938 the mood had shifted considerably. With another conflict looming there is less conviction in proclamations of the First World War having achieved this lasting peace. There is an increase in articles discussing the possibility of another war in the near future and the failings of the last 20 years in maintaining peace. There is a palpable anxiety present in the coverage of both the Mail and Mirror as British society faces the stark realisation that the lasting peace so many died for between 1914-18 is on the verge of dissolution.

1948
By 1948 this anxiety had yet to subside, and despite another recent victory over Germany and her allies there is little celebration or indication that the Second World War had done a better job in achieving peace than the First had done as too little time had yet passed. This sample provides a much shorter number of texts concerned with commemoration, and I am drawn to Jay Winter’s assertion that societies following the Second World War struggled to make sense of the carnage they had experienced as an explanation as to why this was the case:

The limits of language had been reached; perhaps there was no way adequately to express the hideousness and scale of the cruelties of the 1939-1945 war. (Winter, 1995, p.9)

In the wake of the First World War, commemorative practices were conceived so as to soothe the suffering of the bereaved and to attach value and meaning to the sacrifice of the war dead. The aftermath of the Second World War resulted in a disillusionment with this previous tradition as commemoration hinged on the maintenance of peace. Now it was clear that the ‘peace’ so many died to attain was a fiction, and perhaps the lack of coverage in this text sample is demonstrative of a contextual detachment felt in British society towards the commemoration of war. The overarching theme displayed by this text sample is that of a society disillusioned with the concept of war commemoration, yet perceived slights to tradition, such as “gigglers” at Whitehall, are still harshly condemned. Despite there being no overt celebration of the war dead, or victory in the two World Wars present in either paper, it is clear that the bare minimum of traditional commemorative practices were to still be respected and observed.

1958
The texts from 1958 greatly resemble those of 1928, where it was believed that a sufficient period of time had passed since the ending of the First World War and thus it was acceptable to again assert that lasting peace had been achieved. There are a few texts that discuss this idea of lasting peace, specifically one in the Daily Mail titled What a Difference 27 Years Make, which argues that the contrast between the present and 1931, both being 13 years removed from a World War, proves that society is on the right track to avoiding another global conflict.

Another important focus of texts from this period is the issue of the “200,000,” the last remaining veterans of the First World War, and what is perceived to be a lack of financial support from the government as they enter the later stages of their lives. After 1948, where overt reference to ex-servicemen in the texts was absent, this year’s sample brings them back to the fore, reminiscent once more of 1928’s sample. The difference here, however, is that the ex-servicemen mentioned in the texts collected prior to the Second World War focused on those who had been left disabled by their experiences of the First World War. In 1958, media coverage encompasses all ex-servicemen from the First World War due to their age – now that 40 years have passed since the Armistice, the advanced age of veterans now means they are all regarded as vulnerable and in need of assistance from the public, be they disabled as a result of the war or not.

1968 and 1978
Both 1968 and 1978 samples offer an insight to changing attitudes to the First World War in British society. The British mythology of the conflict that is firmly planted in modern popular imagination has its roots in the 1960s and 70s where a number of influential pieces of media were produced that transformed attitudes to the First World War.

Evident in both text samples is the widening divide between older and younger generations and their attitudes towards the commemoration of war, and wider ideas regarding the relevance of traditional commemorative rituals considering how much time had passed since the Armistice. Both newspapers wrestle with the idea that commemorative practices have become outdated and appeal only to a small minority of the population with personal connections to the First World War, with it being described as “too sentimental” to some. Despite these growing objections, large crowds are still in attendance at remembrance services, many of whom, as the Daily Mirror points out, are young people. These decades depict the future of commemorative tradition as being somewhat in doubt; with the Second World War receding into history, and the First even more so, there is a real feeling in the texts that the commemorative traditions conceived in the wake of the Armistice had started to become outdated.

1988 & 1998
By the late 1980s British interest in commemoration seems to have been reinvigorated, perhaps in no small part due to the Falklands Conflict of 1982, with both the 1988 and 1998 texts bearing a more nationalistic tone than previous samples. With memory of the First World War having all but passed from living memory, emphasis in the texts shifts from the personal stories of those who were directly affected by the conflict towards a more abstract concept of commemoration as an almost celebration of Britishness. Both newspapers in 1988 contain adverts from the British Legion that describe the observance of traditional commemorative practices as a “National Debt,” and especially in the Daily Mail there is a vast increase in articles containing inflammatory and accusatory language directed at those who are not 100% committed to participation. Whilst in 1998, the question of whether today’s youth are willing to die for their nation is repeated numerous times throughout Remembrancetide in the Daily Mail. 

21st Century
Leading into the 21st Century there is a sense that the initial meaning behind commemoration, which sought to provide support for those mourning the deaths of loved ones, has become outdated now that lived experience of the First World War has passed from the British population. There is a real danger that the language and symbols that vindicated the sacrifice of the war-dead in the wake of the conflict are more likely to inspire militaristic notions in the present day.

Poppies in a field

Summary
While brief, I hope this piece has demonstrated to some degree the fluid nature of British attitudes to commemoration in the 20th Century, and how these attitudes are somewhat representative of wider historical and social change. As my research moves forward it will be most interesting to see the relationship between ‘micro’ discourses and those disseminated by the British media.

Resources such as the UK Web Archive will prove invaluable in exploring these ‘bottom up’ approaches to commemoration, asking how language and symbols popularised in the wake of the First World War, such as the Remembrance Poppy, are reproduced within amateur online remembrance projects and how this usage potentially relates to issues such as nationalism and militarism. Often, mainstream representations of Remembrance focus on the unifying nature of commemoration, and it will be interesting to see whether analysis of materials produced by the average British citizen challenges or confirms this narrative.

UKWA First World War centenary collection - 900+ archived websites (or pages).

04 November 2020

Curating culturally themed collections online: The Russia in the UK Collection, UK Web Archive

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By Hannah Connell, Collaborative PhD Student, King’s College London; British Library

Title slide from Hannah's presentation with a London Underground map in Russian

 

I spoke about my position as a curator for the Russia in the UK curated collection as part of the recent Engaging with Web Archives conference (EWA), which was held online from the 21st-22nd of September 2020. This conference reflected the breadth of the web archiving community, bringing together speakers from researchers to librarians, as well as curators and web archiving teams from many different countries.

As always, it was inspiring to participate in such a welcoming event. Even online, the conference retained the collaborative atmosphere which has marked my experience of research in web archiving, allowing new researchers to interact with more experienced practitioners and encouraging questions and conversations between researchers, users and archivists.

The researcher-curated collection, Russia in the UK, is part of the UK Web Archive (UKWA). I was particularly pleased to have had the opportunity to present this curated collection, a resource on the Russian-speaking community in the UK, which was first started in November 2017. Such collections play an important role in making the wide range of material preserved in the UKWA more visible to researchers.

Curators are important to the preservation work of the UKWA. Curated collections are collected manually by curators and researchers with specialist knowledge in their field. The role of a curator in creating a UKWA collection involves identifying relevant websites to be included in a collection, and recording the metadata for these websites, including the translation and transliteration of titles and descriptions in other languages.

This collection is valuable both as a resource for further research, and as a means of questioning research practices. It is not possible to capture everything on the web, and collection curators ensure that a representative sample of websites for each thematic collection are selected. The practice of creating and maintaining a collection such as the Russia in the UK  ultimately influences the shape of the collection and the online representation of the diasporic community it will come to reflect. As such, it is important for researchers and users to understand the decisions taken by curators in selecting and capturing websites.

My paper for EWA focused on the creation of a curation guide for curators of new curated collections. This  draws on the ongoing process of curating the Russia in the UK collection, documenting both the provenance of this special collection and reflecting on this process as a model for future collections.  

In documenting the creation of this collection, I hope to enable future researchers to explore and contribute to this record of the online activity of the Russian diaspora in the UK, and to question and develop the curatorial and research practices behind the curation of collections.

You can watch Hannah Connell’s presentation on the EWA YouTube channel.

 

03 November 2020

LGBTQ+ Lives Online: Introducing the Lead Curators

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By Steven Dryden, British Library LGBTQ+ Staff Network & Ash Green CILIP LGBTQ+ Network

In July 2020 the British Library, the UK Web Archive and CILIP LGBTQ+ Network relaunched the LGBTQ+ Lives Online web archive collection. We have received many nominations for new sites to be collected by the UK Web Archive and work has begun to re-tag many of the websites that have been collected since the UK Web Archive began collecting the UK web in 2005.

To mark two months since the project began, LGBTQ+ Lives Online leads Steven Dryden, of the British Library, and Ash Green, of CILIP LGBTQ+ Network write about the relevance of the World Wide Web to them as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and some of their collection highlights:

 

Steven he/him/his

StevenDryden
Steven Dryden

I first encountered the internet in Las Vegas. It was the summer of 1998, I was 17 and my family had migrated from Newcastle Upon Tyne to the western world’s party play pit in the Nevada desert. My friend, Lilian, was talking to someone in New York City about the band Depeche Mode through America Online (AOL).

Chat rooms were online spaces that allowed groups of people to join anonymously and had the options to talk and interact within a group or in private. Chatrooms quickly became a pivotal part of my small cohort of friends and I, the odd balls who didn’t quite fit, as we were forming our identities in those formative late teen years, and trying to find our place in the world.

Later the same year on October 12, 1998 Matthew Shepard would die. A gay student at the University of Wyoming, Shepherd was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. AOL chatrooms formed the major part of how I found out about Shepherd, worked through my feelings about his murder, and was the first news story that I followed online.

The protections and general understanding of who the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are has undergone radical change in the 22 years since I first encountered the internet. I’m interested to see what survives online of the change in language relating to the community, and what evidence remains in the UK Web Archive of the online discussion. Some websites that interest me in these first months of the project include:

  • The Campaign for Homosexual Equality: an organisation which led the way to legal reform in the UK, following the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partial decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales.

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20130505124828/http://www.c-h-e.org.uk/

  • Around the Toilet: a community engaged art project exploring the accessibility and culture of toilets for the LGBTQ+ community

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20180606164959/https://aroundthetoilet.wordpress.com/

  • Asexual Visibility and Education Network: founded in 2001 with two distinct goals: creating public acceptance and discussion of asexuality and facilitating the growth of an asexual community

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20150226230020/http://www.asexuality.org/home/

 

Ash (they/them)

Ash Green
Ash Green

When I was studying for my BA Information and Library Management degree in the early 1990s, the internet and World Wide Web weren’t as high profile as they are now. I loved tech back then, and was into programming and creating databases as part of the degree. But I didn’t really understand what the lecturers were talking about when they mentioned the internet. At the time I had no idea how important it would be to my coming out just over 20 years later, and what a positive impact it would have.

Thinking about the lead up to my coming out in 2017, without access to sites and forums related to trans/gender non-conforming lives in particular, I doubt I would have come out at all. But when I decided to look for guidance online, I found a huge amount of information that was overwhelming at first, but eventually this helped me understood where I fitted into the world. They included medical sites; statements from WHO and other health organisations highlighting that being trans wasn’t a mental health issue; personal blogs and forums, talking about experiences and a variety of perspectives on what it means to be trans; finding out about non-binary, genderfluid, and genderqueer people experiences (I had no idea what these words meant); LGBTQ+ events; makeup and style tips; sites for face-to-face support groups and meetups, and sites for exhibitions such as the Museum of Transology and the Transworkers photography exhibition, which helped me understand that being trans is much broader than mainstream media would have the world believe.

Many sites were useful, but at the same time I came across quite a few that were more "Yes, this miracle herbal treatment really does change your hormones", and "You're only valid if you fit into trans box X or Y" that put my critical, digital literacy and research experience into practice. I also found supportive friends and allies, and I was able to share useful sites and sources of information I’d discovered to give them a better understanding of my experience. It’s important that these sites should be a part of the UK Web Archive LGBTQ+ Lives Online collection. Not only because they have a relevance to the UK Web Archive in general, but from a personal perspective I feel that if they had such an impact on helping me find where I fit into the world, how many other people have they also had a similar positive impact upon?

The sites I’ve chosen below from the UK Web Archive have all had a personal impact upon myself.

  • Museum of Transology: The UK’s most significant collection of objects representing trans, non-binary and intersex people’s lives. 

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20201003091027/https://www.museumoftransology.com/

  • OutStories Bristol: Collecting and preserving the social history and recollections of LGBT+ people living in or associated with Bristol, England.

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/10000101000000/https://outstoriesbristol.org.uk/

  • Outline Surrey: Outline provides support to people with their sexuality and gender identity, including but not limited to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans community of Surrey, primarily through a helpline, website and support groups.

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/en/archive/20160107134238/http://www.outlinesurrey.org/

 

Get involved with preserving UK LGBTQ+ Lives Online with the UK Web Archive

We can’t curate the whole of the UK web on our own, we need your help to ensure that information, discussions, personal experiences and creative outputs related to the LGBTQ+ community are preserved for future generations. Anyone can suggest UK published websites to be included in the UK Web Archive by filling in our nominations form:

https://www.webarchive.org.uk/en/ukwa/nominate

 

02 November 2020

Digital archaeology in the web of links: reconstructing a late-90s web sphere

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By Dr. Peter Webster, Independent Scholar, Historian and Consultant

Fiber cables for the internet

 

The historian of the late 1990s has a problem. The vast bulk of content from the period is no longer on the live web; there are few, if any, indications of what has been lost – no inventory of the 1990s web against which to check. Of the content that was captured by the Internet Archive (more or less the only archive of the Anglophone web of the period), only a superficial layer is exposed to full-text search, and the bulk may only be retrieved by a search for the URL. We do not know what was never archived, and in the archive it is difficult to find what we might want, since there is no means of knowing the URL of a lost resource. Sometimes we need, then, to understand the archived web using only the technical data about itself that it can be made to disclose.

Niels Brügger has defined a web sphere as ‘web material … related to a topic, a theme, an event or a geographic area’.  My paper at the EWA conference presents a method of reconstructing a web sphere, much of which is lost from the live web and exists only in the Internet Archive: the web estate of the many conservative Christian campaign groups in the UK in the 1990s and early 2000s.

This method of web sphere reconstruction is based not on page content but on the relationships between sites, i.e., the web of hyperlinks. The method is iterative, and tracks back and forth between big data and small. Individual archived pages and directories, printed sources, the scholarly record itself, and even traces of previous unsuccessful attempts at web archiving come into play, as does a large dataset held by the British Library. From the more than 2 billion lines in the UK Host Link Graph dataset it is possible to extract the outlines of this particular web sphere.

You can watch Peter Webster’s presentation on his website peterwebster.me

 

Previous studies using a similar method are: 

Webster, Peter. 2019. Lessons from cross-border religion in the Northern Irish web sphere: understanding the limitations of the ccTLD as a proxy for the national web. In The Historical Web and Digital Humanities: the Case of National Web domains, eds Niels Brügger & Ditte Laursen, 110-23. London: Routledge.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/yms5-9v95     

Webster, Peter. 2017. Religious discourse in the archived web: Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, and the sharia law controversy of 2008. In: The Web as History, eds Niels Brügger & Ralph Schroeder, 190-203. London: UCL Press. (Available Open Access at:  https://www.uclpress.co.uk/products/84010)

 

30 October 2020

The UK Web Archive creeps and crawls into the domain of Halloween with byte sized steps

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By Helena Byrne, Curator of Web Archives at the British Library

Spider web with one spider some small flies stuck in the web and a dragon fly hovering just above the web.
Creepy crawlers - British Library digitised image from page 79 of "The Child's Book of Poetry. A selection of poems, ballads and hymns"

 

Halloween and the UK Web Archive

From the start of October all the shops and supermarkets were filling up with Halloween costumes, decorations and lots of fun sized confectionery that are easy to share with some of the trick-o-treaters who might be knocking on your door. It is not clear yet how the coronavirus pandemic will impact any of the informal celebrations that take place every year. No doubt the UK Web Archive crawlers are picking up lots of Halloween and 5th of November themed webpages as part of the 2020 Domain Crawl.

Halloween in the UK is often perceived to be a cultural import from North America. A YouGov poll in 2019 showed that only 30% of people surveyed were planning to celebrate the occasion. This Shine graph shows how the popularity of the term on the archived .uk web has increased in popularity over time. 

Click on a point in the graph to see a sample of how the phrase is used.

 

Screenshot of the search for Halloween on the UK Web Archive Shine trends search

 

Halloween History

The tradition of Halloween actually goes back centuries and was widely celebrated by people in Ireland, Britain and northern France. During pagan times, the 1st of November was officially the start of winter, this season was  associated with death as the crops, wildlife and many people died due to the cold and lack of sunlight during this period. Because of this day’s association with death, it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth on the night of the 31st October. It was during the Reformation that the tradition of celebrating Halloween died out in Britain, especially in England

A recent YouGov poll has shown that Guy Fawkes Night is more popular in Great Britain than Halloween

 

The 5th of November

The commemoration on the 5th of November goes by many names, traditionally it was Guy Fawkes Night but is sometimes referred to as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night. But there seems to be some regional differences in what term is used and how the night is celebrated. 

What do you call this commemoration?

This is a question we visited back in 2017 and as you can see in the Shine graph in more recent years the term Bonfire Night was used more widely on the archived .uk web. 

 

Screenshot of the search results for Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes, Gun Powder Plot and Fireworks Night on the UK Web Archive Shine interface

 

Get creative with Halloween at the British Library

Our Assistant Web Archivist, Carlos Lelkes-Rarugal, has designed some short animated videos using recordings from the British Library Sound Archive and images from the Ghosts & Ghoulish Scenes, British Library Flickr. See these on the UK Web Archive, Digital Scholarship and the Sound Archive’s Wildlife Department Twitter accounts.

This and other sounds can be experienced in the Sound Archive at the British Library which has over 260,000 wildlife sound recordings from all over the world. You can hear a selection of some of these recordings on the British Library, Sound & Vision blog, the latest blog post Going Batty for Halloween, gives an overview of the history of bats and Halloween. 

The Digital Scholarship’s latest blog post, Mind Your Paws and Claws, encourages you to use these images and sounds for various creative projects. The Ghosts & Ghoulish Scenes Flickr Album was previously used in the Gothic Off the Map competition

 

Get involved with preserving the UK web

The UK Web Archive aims to archive, preserve and give access to the historic UK web space. We endeavour to include important aspects of British culture and events that shape society. 

Anyone can suggest UK websites to be included in the UK Web Archive by filling in our nominations form: www.webarchive.org.uk/nominate 

We have a Festivals collection, but are there any local Halloween or 5th of November events near you that haven’t been added yet? Equally, if these events have now been cancelled, we would like to add some of these online cancellation notifications to our collection Coronavirus (COVID-19) UK. Browse through what we have so far and please nominate more content!

 

28 October 2020

PRONI Web Archive: A Collaborative Approach

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By Rosita Murchan, Web Archivist, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)

PRONI Web Archive homepage
Screenshot of the PRONI Web Archive homepage

 

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) Web Archive has been building its collection of websites for almost ten years, focusing initially on capturing the websites of our Government departments and local councils but also websites deemed historically or culturally important to Northern Ireland.

Our collection has grown in both size and scope and we now have over 240 captured sites that range from Instagram and twitter feeds to local history group pages to significant inquest sites with one terabyte of data being captured each year.

Unlike the rest of UK where legal deposit libraries are entitled to copy published material from the internet under the 2013 Non-Print Legal Deposit Regulations (NPLD),  PRONI has no legal deposit status and rather works on a permissions based approach where we write to website owners informing them of our intention to archive their website and then operate on a ‘silence is consent’ approach crawling a site anyway and taking down websites should the owner request it. 

In an attempt to continue to expand our collection we have been very lucky to have been invited to collaborate with the UK Web Archive team based at the British Library on some of their projects in the last year and have added a Northern Ireland perspective on the topics of Brexit and the General Election 2019 and more recently a NI Covid-19 viewpoint.

Part and parcel of this collaboration included us getting access to and being able to use and add to the UK Web Archive ACT Web Archiving tool. For me this was a great opportunity to see and use another web archiving tool, especially a custom piece of software for an institution as reputable as the British Library and it has been a fantastic opportunity for us to archive sites that would normally be outside our remit, as a result we have been able to add to further research for Northern Ireland.

We really hope to continue this partnership with the British library going forward, not only as a method of increasing the amount of NI archived sites but also as a way to continue to improve and learn from their expertise.

You can watch Rosita Murchan’s presentation on the EWA YouTube Channel.