THE BRITISH LIBRARY

UK Web Archive blog

3 posts categorized "Digital scholarship"

04 August 2020

Twit twoo: International Owl Awareness Day 2020

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By Helena Byrne, Curator of Web Archives, The British Library
 
 
 
An illustration of four owls perched on a branch with the moonlight behind them
British Library digitised image from page 271 of "Madeline Power [A novel] https://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/11121066504

 

The 4th of August is International Owl Awareness Day. This is the perfect time to reflect on owl related content in the UK Web Archive. 

There are five native species of owls’ resident year-round in the UK, namely the Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl and Little Owl. Also, the Snowy Owl is an is an occasional winter visitor to the Outer Hebrides, Shetland and the Cairngorms in Scotland.

Owls online

We were wondering, out of these six owl species, which one is the most popular on the archived .uk domain?

 

UK Owl Species Shine Trends
A graph showing how many mentions the six owl species have on the archived .uk web

 

In order to answer this question, the Shine graph may prove useful. Shine was developed as part of the Big UK Data Arts and Humanities project funded by the AHRC. The data was acquired by JISC from the Internet Archive and includes all .uk websites in the Internet Archive web collection crawled between 1996 and April 2013. The collection comprises over 3.5 billion items (URLs, images and other documents) and has been full-text indexed by the UK Web Archive. Every word of every website in the collection can be searched for and analysed.

The most popular owl species referenced in the Shine dataset is the Barn Owl. Despite the curve in the graph being at its peak in 2011, the most popular year for the Barn Owl was 2012. This is because the graph shows the percentage of resources archived for each year and some years have more resources than others. In 2011 there were 66,034 of 288,809,412 archived resources that mention Barn Owl, while in 2012 there were 94,990 of 463,367,189 resources. These numbers are too big to review manually but by clicking at a single point on the graph, Shine will generate a random sample of up to 100 references to the search term. The sample displays a sentence were the term appears, as well as a link out to the Internet Archive so that you can review the archived website.

 

Get creative with owls at the British Library

Video created by Carlos Lelkes-Rarugal, using Tawny Owl hoots recorded by Richard Margoschis in Gloucestershire, England (BL ref 09647). British Library digitised image from page 272 of "The Works of Alfred Tennyson, etc" 

 

Curious about what some of these owls’ sound like? Our Assistant Web Archivist, Carlos Lelkes-Rarugal, designed some short animated videos using recordings from the British Library Sound Archive and images from the British Library Flickr account. You can view these on the UK Web Archive, Digital Scholarship and the Sound Archive’s Wildlife Department Twitter accounts.

The title for this blog post was inspired by the sound made by the Tawny Owl. This and other sounds can be experienced in the Sound Archive at the British Library which has over 2,500 recordings of owls from all over the world. You can hear a selection of some these recordings on the British Library, Sound & Vision blog.

The Digital Scholarship team have also put together a useful album of digitised illustrations of owls on the British Library Flickr account. Their latest blog post encourages you to use these images for various creative projects.

 

Get involved with preserving owls online with the UK Web Archive

The UK Web Archive aims to archive, preserve and give access to the UK web space. We endeavour to include important aspects of British culture and events that shape society. The biodiversity of the UK is an important aspect of our collective national culture and is represented in several British Library collections including the UK Web Archive.

We can’t however, curate the whole of the UK Web on our own, we need your help to ensure that information, discussion and creative output on this subject are preserved for future generations.

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

We already have an Online Enthusiast Communities in the UK curated collection that features some owl related websites in the Animal related hobbies subsection. Browse through what we have so far and please nominate more content!

 

23 June 2020

WARCnet and the UK Web Archive

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By Jason Webber, Web Archiving Engagement Manager

 

We at the UK Web Archive (UKWA) have recently taken part in a new initiative called WARCnet led by the University of Aarhus in Denmark (and funded by Independent Research Fund Denmark).

“The aim of the WARCnet network is to promote high-quality national and transnational research that will help us to understand the history of (trans)national web domains and of transnational events on the web, drawing on the increasingly important digital cultural heritage held in national web archives.”

 

Warcnetblog-01
WARCnet logo

 

The majority of participants are researchers currently using web archives as part of their studies, many with extensive experience and others new to the field. This makes this an exciting project to be part of as it is an excellent way for content holders such as UKWA to be able to work closely with a group of researchers and try and understand their needs and challenges. The project had a kick-off meeting in May 2020 that was originally intended to be in person but took place virtually. All the speakers pre-recorded their talks which does now mean that these are now all available (including one by myself). I’d particularly recommend viewing the two keynote speakers Matthew S. Weber and Ian Milligan.

 

Warcnetblog-02
Title slide for Jason Webber's WARCnet presentation

 

Working Groups
It is intended for any outcomes from WARCnet to be driven by the participants themselves and to this end four working groups have been formed:

 

  • Working Group 1 - Comparing entire web domains
  • Working Group 2 - Analysing transnational events
  • Working group 3 - Digital research methods and tools
  • Working group 4 - Research data management across borders

 

The UKWA team is involved with each of the first three working groups, all of which have met in the last weeks to see how we can take this project forward. You can read more about each group here.

There are at least three more small conferences planned (currently as in person), one later this year in Luxembourg and two next year in London and Aarhus.

Look out for updates on our involvement with this initiative on this blog and through our twitter account @UKWebArchive and @WARC_net.

09 August 2017

The Proper Serious Work of Preserving Digital Comics

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Jen Aggleton is a PhD candidate in Education at the University of Cambridge, and is completing a work placement at the British Library on the subject of digital comics. 

If you are a digital comics creator, publisher, or reader, we would love to hear from you. We’d like to know more about the digital comics that you create, find out links to add to our Web Archive collection, and find examples of comic apps that we could collect. Please email suggestions to Jennifer.Aggleton@BL.uk. For this initial stage of the project, we will be accepting suggestions until the end of August 2017.

I definitely didn’t apply for a three month placement at the British Library just to have an excuse to read comics every day. Having a number of research interests outside of my PhD topic of illustrated novels (including comics and library studies), I am always excited when I find opportunities which allow me to explore these strands a little more. So when I saw that the British Library were looking for PhD placement students to work in the area of 21st century British comics, I jumped at the chance.

Having convinced my supervisor that I wouldn’t just be reading comics all day but would actually be doing proper serious work, I temporarily put aside my PhD and came to London to read lots and lots of digital comics (for the purpose of proper serious work). And that’s when I quickly realised that I was already reading comics every day.

The reason I hadn’t noticed was because I hadn’t specifically picked up a printed comic or gone to a dedicated webcomic site every day (many days, sure, but not every day). I was however reading comics every day on Facebook, slipped in alongside dubiously targeted ads and cat videos. It occurred to me that lots of other people, even those who may not think of themselves as comics readers, were probably doing the same.

Forweb2-slytherinpic
(McGovern, E. My Life As A Background Slytherin, https://www.facebook.com/backgroundslytherin/photos/a.287354904946325.1073741827.287347468280402/338452443169904/?type=3&theater Reproduced with kind permission of Emily McGovern.)

This is because the ways in which we interact with comics have been vastly expanded by digital technology. Comics are now produced and circulated through a number of different platforms, including apps, websites and social media, allowing them to reach further than their traditional audience. These platforms have made digital comics simultaneously both more and less accessible than their print equivalents; many webcomics are available for free online, which means readers no longer have to pay between £8 and £25 for a graphic novel, but does require them to have already paid for a computer/tablet/smartphone and internet connection (or have access to one at their local library, provided their local library wasn’t a victim of austerity measures).

Alongside access to reading comics, access to publishing has also changed. Anyone with access to a computer and internet connection can now publish a comic online. This has opened up comics production to many whose voices may not have often been heard in mainstream print comics, including writers and characters of colour, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities, and creators who simply cannot give up the stability of full-time employment to commit the time needed to chase their dream of being a comics creator. The result is a vibrant array of digital comics, enormously varying in form and having a significant social and cultural impact.

But digital comics are also far more fragile than their print companions, and this is where the proper serious work part of my placement comes in. Comics apps are frequently removed from app stores as new platform updates come in. Digital files become corrupted, or become obsolete as the technology used to host them is updated and replaced. Websites are taken down, leaving no trace (all those dire warnings that the internet is forever are not exactly true. For more details about the need for digital preservation, see an earlier post to this blog). So in order to make sure that all the fantastic work happening in digital comics now is still available for future generations (which in British Library terms could mean ten years down the line, or five hundred years down the line), we need to find ways to preserve what is being created.

One method of doing this is to establish a dedicated webcomics archive. The British Library already has a UK Web Archive, due to the extension of legal deposit in 2013 to include the collection of non-print items. I am currently working on setting up a special collection of UK webcomics within that archive. This has involved writing collections guidelines covering what will (and won’t) be included in the collection, which had me wrestling with the thorny problem of what exactly a digital comic is (comics scholars will know that nobody can agree on what a print comic is, so you can imagine the fun involved in trying to incorporate digital elements such as audio and video into the mix as well). It has also involved building the collection through web harvesting, tracking down webcomics for inclusion in the collection, and providing metadata (information about the collection item) for cataloguing purposes (this last task may happen to require reading lots of comics).

Alongside this, I am looking into ways that digital comics apps might be preserved, which is very proper serious work indeed. Not only are there many different versions of the same app, depending on what operating system you are using, but many apps are reliant not only on the software of the platform they are running on, but sometimes the hardware as well, with some apps integrating functions such as the camera of a tablet into their design. Simply downloading apps will provide you with lots of digital files that you won’t be able to open in a few years’ time (or possibly even a few months’ time, with the current pace of technology). This is not a problem that can be solved in the duration of a three month placement (or, frankly, given my total lack of technical knowledge, by me at all). What I can do, however, is find people who do have technical knowledge and ask them what they think. Preserving digital comics is a complicated and ongoing process, and it is a great experience to be in at the early stages of exploration.

And you can be involved in this fun experience too! If you are a digital comics creator, publisher, or reader, we would love to hear from you. We’d like to know more about the digital comics that you create, find out links to add to our Web Archive collection, and find examples of comic apps that we could collect. Please email suggestions to Jennifer.Aggleton@BL.uk. For this initial stage of the project, we will be accepting suggestions until the end of August 2017. In that time, we are particularly keen to receive web addresses for UK published webcomics, so that I can continue to build the web archive, and do the proper serious work of reading lots and lots of comics.