The Web as History: Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present

The Web as History: Using Web Archives to Understand the Past and the Present

English | Mar. 6, 2017 | ISBN: 1911307428 | 298 Pages | PDF | 19 MB

The web as a reflection of society The web has been with us for more than a quarter of a century. It has become a daily and ubiquitous source of information in many peoples' lives around the globe. But what does it tell us about historical and social change? For a researcher in the twenty-second century, it will seem unimaginable that someone studying the twenty-first century would do anything but draw heavily on the online world to tell them about peoples' changing lives. Currently, however, the web remains an almost untapped source for research. This book aims to make a start in this direction.
If the importance of dusty - or digital - archived material seems like something that would be mainly of importance to academics, consider the following two examples: In late 2013, it was discovered that the UK Conservative Party had deleted political speeches that it might find inconvenient from the party's websites and had also throttled access to these sites via Google and the Internet Archive. Cowls (2013) notes that, ironically, these speeches include one by the then Conservative leader David Cameron where he admonished politicians and others not to keep information secret. This discovery led, of course, to attempts to track down this material which had, as it turns out, been archived in a special collection by the British Library (Guardian, 2013). This incident highlights the importance of web archives as a matter of record, and in the end drew more negative attention to the websites than the Conservatives had hoped to avoid by deleting the information in the first place.

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