UK Web Archive blog

6 posts categorized "Selection"

12 January 2023

Changes in Nature’s Calendar – Early Bloomers

The Importance of Citizen Science in Monitoring and Adapting to Climatic Change

By Andrea Deri, Cataloguer and UKWA Climate Change Collection’s lead curator

On 1 January 2023, I had my usual walk from Folkestone Gardens via Sue Godfrey Nature Park, Deptford, London Borough of Lewisham to Greenwich Park, Royal Borough of Greenwich. Overcast, temperature in single digit, humid but calm. Trees and shrubs mostly leafless: an accentuating background to patches of bright green mosses.

I was hoping to see some flowers on winter blossoming plants, for example the bell-shaped flowers of clematis ‘Jingle Bell’ in St Alfege Church’s yard, and the spidery flowers of witch hazels in the Royal Observatory Garden in Greenwich. I was also curious what other flowers I would find, earlier than usual, triggered by the warming climate. Having joined a month ago (1 December 2022) the annual wildflower ‘hunt’ on the first day of the winter, a survey of species in flower in my locality, Deptford’s urban area since 2009 organised by the Creekside Education Trust and the London Natural History Society, I expected several early bloomers. Here is Creekside’s blog post of the 2021 wildflower survey. 

While the witch hazels (Fig. 1.) did not disappoint, I was up for a surprise with clematis “Jingle Bell”: only the silky fluffy seedheads were left: it finished flowering earlier this year. I was lucky to see its last flowers on Christmas Eve 2022 (Fig. 2.). Other early flowers greeted me on a hazelnut shrub in Sue Godfrey Nature Park (Fig. 3.). But, I was truly astonished to see daffodils fully opened in a park by Creekside, just across the Creekside Discovery Centre (Fig.4.) 

Witch hazel flower

Figure 1 Witch hazel (Hamamelis sp.) in flower. Photo: Andrea Deri, Royal Observatory Garden, Greenwich, London, 1 January 2023

I started searching for phenology calendars, almanacs, and any information on the blooming time of these species in my local and other areas in order to compare my observations with the “expected” (based on previous years) flowering periods. The online findings supported my assumption: I did observe earlier than expected flowerings, with the most specific data for the hazelnut.

Clematis ‘Jingle Bell’ 
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) clematis “Jingle Bell” flowers in winter and early spring. Compared to this broad-brush period, my observation this year suggests this individual specimen finished flowering much earlier than expected and earlier than I had observed this specimen in previous years. 

Clematis flower

Figure 2 Clematis cirrhosa “Jingle Bells” one bell-shaped flower and fluffy seedheads. Photo: Andrea Deri, St Elfege Church, Greenwich, London, 24 December 2022

Daffodil 
A post on the Daffodil Society prompted me to do a search on RHS’s website for daffodils where February-March was quoted as the usual flowering period. More precise than for the clematis. Early flowering daffodil horticultural varieties, however, can bloom as early as January, stated one of the Gardeners World blogposts. I may have encountered an early flowering daffodil garden variety. In addition to its literary associations, this iconic flower may have just now become also a conversation starter about the climate crisis. Would its freshness and brightness frame a difficult dialogue in hope? 

Daffodil flowers

Figure 3 Daffodils (Narcissus sp.) in flower. Photo: Andrea Deri, near Creekside Discovery Centre, Deptford, London, 1 January 2023

Hazelnut 
The Woodland Trust Nature’s Calendar offered me with the tool I had been really looking for: a peer-reviewed database linked to a live map that allowed me to compare my observation with fellow observers in the UK at day level precision.  

Hazelnut flower

Figure 4 Hazelnut (Corylus avellana) in flower: crimson female flowers, yellow catkin male flowers. Photo: Andrea Deri, Sue Godfrey Nature Park, Deptford, London, 1 January 2023

Before I signed up to add my hazelnut observation, I took a screenshot of the “Add a Record” webpage on 5 January 2023 that showed the first hazelnut flower sighting on 4 January 2023. (Fig.5.)

Screenshot of Wildlife trust 'Nature's calendar' website

Figure 5 Screenshot of Nature's Calendar, Woodland Trust. Photo: Andrea Deri, @20:34 pm GMT 5 January 2023

Hazelnut first flowering was among the recently recorded data of the Nature’s Calendar (Fig. 5.) My observation of hazelnut flowers on 1 January 2023 was not extraordinary but earlier than the one featured online. Hazelnut is expected to be in flower in early January according to Nature Calendar (downloadable pdf). But as early as 1 January? To answer this question, I had to register to enter my data. When I entered my observation date, I received an automatic note, all in red: 

This date falls outside of the expected range

The date you have entered is unusually early or late for this species and event; please double check the record. If it’s correct we’d like to know more about your observation, so please add a comment before clicking ‘next’ to continue. If possible, a photo is very useful too. Please note that your record will not appear on the live map until it has been checked by the Nature’s Calendar team.”

For evidence, I uploaded one of my photos of the hazelnut flowers (Fig.4.) and a description of the place and circumstances. My hazelnut flowering observations may turn out to be some of the earliest this year. To prove or refute this statement I rely on the Woodland Trust’s online database, the Nature’s Calendar team’s peer-review and keen monitoring of fellow citizen scientists. This type of on-land & online live collaboration in monitoring the slightest phenological changes is gaining increasing importance in addressing local impacts of climatic changes.

Will hazelnut flower earlier and earlier in the future? Only regular visitors can answer this question by careful monitoring the same hazelnut shrub and recording the date of the first flowers and uploading the data to Nature Calendar.

Nature Calendar invites citizen scientists to monitor a carefully selected list of species of shrubs, trees, flowers, grasses, fungi, birds, insects and amphibians throughout the year. Their changes over time will give us information on how these species (plants, animals and mushroom) adapt to the unfolding climatic changes. Phenological change data contributes to better decisions in wildlife conservation, among others.  

While I was browsing, I came across several websites and webpages on various other decisions and local actions related to climate change adaptation. For example: What can I do about climate change in my garden?  What local residents are doing in the boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich about the climate crisis:  Climate Action Lewisham, Climate Home – a home of creativity, imagination and community activism by young people, Lewisham Climate Action Bond as an example of Local Climate Bonds, Lewisham Climate Emergency Declaration and Action Plan, CAPE Informing Local Action on Climate Change / London Borough of Lewisham, The Climate Emergency website of Royal Borough of Greenwich, Carbon Neutral Greenwich, Greenwich Climate Network. 

Some of the activities and organisations were familiar to me, I was taken aback by others: ‘How could I miss them?  I live here!” A fast-changing landscape of actions and online information. Having saved these sites to my further actions, I also realised some of these online contents could be highly ephemeral. Uploading my list of URLs to the UKWA Climate Change collection saved local digital content for future research on climatic changes.  

Sauntering through streets, gardens and parks has turned into an archival journey, connecting past, present and future. Fit for the first day of the year. Fit for any days, anywhere where your interest, experience, and local knowledge crosses climatic changes.  

The Natural History Museum’s community science webpage lists a broad range of UK wildlife monitoring activities related to climatic changes, including the New Year Plant Hunt of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and the upcoming annual Big Garden Birdwatch (27-28 January 2023) organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds since 1979. 

Contribute to the web archive
Your next walk or online stroll may spark you to nominate some of your local climate initiatives (civil society, governmental, business, media, arts and academia) to the UK Web Archive Climate Change Collection. Many thanks for your consideration. 

23 July 2014

First World War Centenary – an online legacy in partnership with the HLF

Earlier this year, we at the UK Web Archive were delighted to reach an agreement with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to enable the archiving of a very large and significant set of websites relating to the Centenary of the First World War.

Throughout the Centenary and beyond, we will be working with the HLF in order to take archival copies of the websites of all HLF-funded First World War Centenary projects, and to make them available to users in the Open UK Web Archive. The first of these archived sites are already available in the First World War special collection but we hope that this will eventually lead to more than 1,000.

HLF Funding
HLF is funding First World War projects throughout the Centenary, ranging from small community projects to major museum redevelopments. Grants start at £3,000 and funding is available through four different grants programmes: First World War: then and now (grants of £3,000 - £10,000), Our Heritage (grants of £10,000 - £100,000), Young Roots (Grants of £10,000 - £50,000 for projects led by young people) and Heritage Grants (grants of more than £100,000).

HLF_Blue(RGB)AFF_TNL_RGB

Include your website
If you have HLF funding for a First World War Centenary project, please send the URL (web address) to FWWURL@hlf.org.uk with your project reference number.

If you have a UK-based WW1 website NOT funded by HLF we would still encourage you to add it for permanent archiving through our Nominate form.

Legacy
This set of archived websites will form a key part of our wider Centenary collection, and capture an important legacy of this most significant of anniversaries.

By Jason Webber, Web Archiving Engagement and Liaison Officer, The British Library

19 February 2013

Nineteenth century English literature: a new special collection

[A guest post from Andrea Lloyd, Curator of Printed Literary Sources, 1801-1914 at the British Library]

After almost a year of gathering I’m pleased to announce that my ‘Curator’s Choice’ collection of websites relating to 19th century English literature has now been published on the UK Web Archive.

As a curator of printed literary sources for the period 1801-1914 it doesn’t require a great leap of imagination to discover why I chose this particular topic. The collection is intended to reflect the diverse interests in the genre that are substantiated on the web. Opinions about, and interpretations of 19th century literature and its authors are constantly evolving and I hope that this resource contextualises these important scholarly and cultural changes.

The sites included so far display a broad and eclectic array of subject matters – ranging from author societies to museums; from literary adaptations to academic syllabi. 19th century literature is still hugely popular and attracts a wide audience. Given the massive interest in the likes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, I initially thought I would concentrate on lesser-known authors, and on literature that has grown somewhat obscure in the intervening years. This ultimately isn’t how the collection has evolved – sometimes because many of the more niche sites are published without giving any administrator contact details (so permission cannot be sought to archive the site). In other cases, the owners have not responded to permission requests – often because they have cast the sites off into the vast ‘webosphere’ to fend for themselves.

Anna_t BY-NC-SA Flickr

As someone who works with 19th century printed ephemera on a regular basis I found this exercise particularly fascinating. Pertinent comparisons can be drawn between the ephemeral items that are published on the web and those that were printed in the 19th century. A great deal of the ephemeral literature produced in the 19th century has survived to this day (albeit in a fragile state) – either through luck or thanks to collectors with foresight. Given its transient and contributory nature there is a great danger that similar items produced in electronic formats may not be so lucky – hence the reason the Web Archive is so vital. Hopefully my 22nd century counterpart will thank me for choosing to preserve for posterity some of the more marginal, fleeting and subjective sites available relating to the genre!

Now it’s available for all to see, I hope that others will recommend sites that they think would complement the theme and  help to create a lasting snapshot of 19th century literary scholarship in the 21st century. Do get in touch via this blog, or @UKWebArchive on Twitter.

[Image by anna_t, Creative Commons BY-NC-SA]

19 July 2012

UK Web Archive in the eyes of scholars

We commissioned IRN Research earlier this year to gather a scholarly perspective on the UK Web Archive. This work has now completed and we have received feedback on the Archive’s perceived research value, and particularly on the content and access mechanisms which should be further developed to support research use.

The feedback came from two groups of users: those who already use the Archive for research (26%) and those who have not used the Archive (74%). The overwhelming majority are from Arts and Humanities or Social Sciences disciplines. The participants were interviewed over the telephone and a small group also undertook a second phase where they searched the Archive based on specific case studies, detailing each step of the search and results.

All participants appreciated the potential scholarly value of the Archive. Those interested in web history, statistics and digital preservation research highly value the Archive in particular. However, the selective nature of the Archive seems to impact the perception of those using it for the first time, in that they could not find content relevant to their research. This is further related to the search tool, which has been seen by some as complex with  the presentation of the search results perceived as unstructured. On the contrary, existing users are generally satisfied with the search tool, suggesting that increased familiarity with the Archive may help overcome the perceived weakness.

Special Collections were thought by all users to be useful. However, users would like to understand our selection criteria and how the themes for Special Collections are established. There is a desire to see more Special Collections and the facility to nominate themes. “UK politics” and “Contemporary British History” are the 2 broad themes which have been suggested. All users expressed the requirement for including more images and rich media, as well as more blogs.

Many first-time users are unsure about the usefulness of the visualisation tools, especially the N-gram search. However a small group of users are extremely enthusiastic about this. Again there is more interest in visualisation tools from existing users, suggesting the need to add better explanations about the functions and features of the Archive.

The study has given us some insight on how the UK Web Archive is perceived by scholars, which will direct us through the next stage of development. Things to consider for improvement or adjustment include not only the user interface, but also the underlying search and the scope of our collection.

Many thanks to IRN and those took part in the project.

Helen Hockx-Yu, Head of Web Archiving

 

07 February 2012

New Collection: Video Games, Gaming Culture and the Impact of games on Society

Crazy about computer games? Then nominate websites for our new video games collection!

An exciting new collection is underway to preserve information about computer games developed and played in the UK. It will include resources that document gaming culture and the impact that video games have had on wider society.

The collection is being developed by digital curation and preservation colleagues from across the Library, with additional input from staff at the National Videogame Archive. The National Videogame Archive is a collection of hardware, original software, design documents, marketing material and fan-generated ephemera housed within the National Media Museum and managed in partnership with Nottingham Trent and Bath Spa Universities. Some of the collection items from the National Video Game Archive are on public display in the Museum’s Games Lounge, which is an interactive gallery featuring vintage console and arcade games.

The collection will include games (e.g. disk images, executables of remakes) and information about games (e.g. maps, walkthroughs, FAQs). If we don’t capture it now and get it in the archive, then much of it is at real risk of being lost forever. We’re also very interested in collecting resources that discuss the cultural and societal impact of computer games, for example research on the impact of games on children’s development.

So how can you help? We are calling all games designers, players and enthusiasts to suggest the websites which you think should be preserved. These may include online games, forums, enthusiast sites, FAQs/walkthroughs, advertising, emulation software, research/education resources etc. We’re interested in all sorts of games and aim to capture a comprehensive view of computer game development and gaming culture in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

If you know of any sites that you think should be included, then please let us know by filling in the nominations form. Mark your entry ‘Videogame collection nomination’ in the justification field, as well as entering any other information that might help us to appraise the site. Thanks!

 Stella Wisdom
Digital Curator, The British Library 

02 December 2011

Twittervane: Crowdsourcing selection


TwitterbirdWe’re excited to announce development of a new tool to automate the selection of websites for archiving: the Twittervane.

At the moment, our selection process is manual, dependent upon internal subject specialists or external experts to contact us and nominate websites for archiving in the UK Web Archive. We benefit from their expertise and wouldn’t be without it, but we recognise that this manual selection process can sometimes be time consuming for frequent selectors. It’s also inevitably subjective, reflecting the interests of a relatively small number of selectors. 

Automated selection is an efficient and under-utilised alternative, but up until now it has been difficult to see how an automated approach could clearly identify the most popular and widely relevant websites. Our answer?  Twittervane. 

The Twittervane project will investigate how the power and wisdom of the crowd can be leveraged to automatically select websites for archiving. In essence, it's a crowdsourcing approach to selection that will compliment the manual selections provided by subject specialists and other experts. 

The project will:

  • Deliver a prototype tool for analysing twitter content that will:
    • determine which websites are shared most frequently around a given theme over a given time period;
    • link to our existing web archiving infrastructure to support harvesting of sites that fall within the UK domain
  • Generate at least one pilot special collection comprising websites most frequently shared across the crowd that address or are relevant to a unifying theme
  • Assess the viability of the approach from a curatorial perspective and investigate the ‘wisdom of crowds’ in this context. 

It’s important to get curatorial input to this approach, so we’ll be asking curators from the Library to assess the quality and relevance of resulting selections. The project will start in December and the prototype completed in time for next year’s IIPC May General Assembly in Washington, particularly important as the IIPC are contributing funding for the project.

We aim to provide regular progress updates as development takes place, so watch this space - and Twitter, of course - for more details.