online archives of websites

The Internet Archive has captured websites of institutions since 1996, not just the home page, but other domain contents as well. This helps scholars, and others, return to the older websites both for citation, which is an ongoing problem I've discussed previously in my blog, and for research purposes.  For fun I went back to Feb. 5, 1997, the first CMU homepage captured. You can see it here I compared it to the current CMU homepage here  The changes are dramatic in size, color, and complexity, not to mention links versus the old, ugly gray buttons. I was hired in July 1997, so I remember that website. Interestingly, since Feb. 5, 1997, CMU website has been crawled and captured by Internet Archive 660 times. As we all know,  websites changes occur often, both in minor and major ways. In fact we are awaiting a whole new CMU webpage look to be released soon. Archiving websites provides information not only about how the website looked, operated, and terminology used, but about the ranking of departments and programs which merited top listing, which were buried, which cease to exist, or were changed over time. It also provides information as to its purpose. The main purpose of university websites today is to attract potential students. Another web-capturing system is Archive-It, which crawls websites, or parts of a website, periodically and records it, which was discussed at my MAC conference and EAD workshop. As usual, there is a cost for this, as well as storage space needs. At some point there will need to be an evaluation as to if the use validates the cost, but this will be in the future. We archivists know that if we do not preserve the past and current electronic and web information of value, it will not be there in the future. We can't keep it all, but we can keep some of the more important materials. Otherwise, we will have a blackhole of the late 1990s-forward for future researchers. To read the article, Archiving the Web for Scholars, by Steve Kolowich in Inside Higher Ed click here


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