Who Archives the Web?

Full illustration by Peter Arkle seen at technologyreview.com article.

Laura sent us a long, but interesting, article today from MIT’s Technology Review about Jason Scott and the Archive Team – “Fire in the Library.” According to the article, “Scott is the top-hat-wearing impresario of the Archive Team, a loosely organized band of digital raiders who leap aboard failing websites just as they are about to go under and salvage whatever they can.”  So far, they’ve worked on poetry.com and GeoCities, and they list Splinder, MobileMe and FanFiction.net as active projects.   Anyway, the point to remember is that putting your stuff (photos, stories, diary entries, and documents) in the cloud means you are trusting that the Web site stays alive forever.  Obviously, that’s not the case.  Poetry.com and GeoCities both died, taking all that content with them.  The Archive team also has a new, loose connection to the Internet Archive, who is responsible for the awesome Way Back machine.  This wonderful site let’s me peek at the Tonganoxie Public Library Web site circa 2007, when I was still the director.

I used to upload photos and such to MySpace, but abandoned it for Facebook.  I tried to archive what I’d written, but it was so difficult that I gave up.  “When Google launched its social-networking service Google+ last June, it introduced a new feature called Takeout that would combine users’ posts and export the files for them.”  That is cool.  You can do this with Facebook, too:

  Remember in January 2010 when KLOW was hacked and we lost documents, photos, posts and such from most of our sites?  We learned. We back-up much better now…and make sure that the new Kete digital library is backed up, our file server is backed up and while it is uncertain if Google Docs will be around forever, we utilize that service and store stuff up there, too.  I do my best to have a PDF version of important G-docs on our file server, as well.  Redundancy is a good thing.  I learned that one the hard way when my first NEKLS Macbook was stolen in June 2010.

I know we preach the Joys of Cloud Computing and after my stolen laptop debacle, I was singing the praises of Facebook, Flickr and MySpace for saving my stuff.  However, if I put on my librarian hat and think like an archivist, I realize that we are ultimately responsible for our own data.  At NEKLS, we’re responsible for our stuff, plus a whole lot of other library’s stuff.  It’s weighty.  I’m glad that we host Northeast Kansas History and that it can be a redundant site for some of the cool stuff the Historical Society has on Kansas Memory.  A thought-provoking article and I must say I’m glad they’re out there taking risks, archiving sites and pushing the boundaries of Fair Use.


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