Big UK Domain Data for the Arts and Humanities. (With Helen Hockx-Yu and Jane Winters) Invited presentation to the International Internet Preservation Consortium General Assembly, Stanford University, CA, USA, April 2015.
Hale, SA, Yasseri, T, Cowls, J, Meyer, ET, Schroeder, R and H Margetts (2015) Mapping the UK webspace: fifteen years of British universities on the web. Proceedings of the 2014 ACM conference on Web science, 62-70.
This paper maps the national UK web presence on the basis of an analysis of the .uk domain from 1996 to 2010. It reviews previous attempts to use web archives to understand national web domains and describes the dataset. Next, it presents an analysis of the .uk domain, including the overall number of links in the archive and changes in the link density of different second-level domains over time. We then explore changes over time within a particular second-level domain, the academic subdomain .ac.uk, and compare linking practices with variables, including institutional affiliation, league table ranking, and geographic location. We do not detect institutional affiliation affecting linking practices and find only partial evidence of league table ranking affecting network centrality, but find a clear inverse relationship between the density of links and the geographical distance between universities. This echoes prior findings regarding offline academic activity, which allows us to argue that real-world factors like geography continue to shape academic relationships even in the Internet age. We conclude with directions for future uses of web archive resources in this emerging area of research.
I am in Aarhus this week for the ‘Web Archiving and Archived Web’ seminar organised by Netlab at Aarhus University. Before the seminar got underway, I had time to walk around ‘The Old Town’ (Den Gamle By), a vibrant, open-air reconstruction of historic Danish buildings from the eighteenth century to the present. The Old Town is described as an open-air museum, but in many ways it’s much more than that: it’s filled with actors who walk around impersonating townsfolk from across history, interacting with guests to bring the old town more vividly to life. Continue reading “Recreational bugs: the limits of representing the past through web archives”
In March 2012, as Mitt Romney was seeking to win over conservative voters in his bid to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, his adviser Eric Fehrnstrom discussed concerns over his appeal to moderate voters later in the campaign, telling a CNN interviewer, “For the fall campaign … everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.” Fehrnstrom’s unfortunate response provided a memorable metaphor for the existing perception of Romney as a ‘flip-flopper’. Fehrnstrom’s opposite number in the Obama campaign, David Axelrod, would later jibe that “it’s hard to Etch-A-Sketch the truth away”, and indeed, tying Romney to his less appetising positions and comments formed a core component of the President’s successful re-election strategy. Continue reading “Preserving the present: the unique challenges of archiving the web”
Following an earlier, somewhat rantier post on this blog when the news originally broke, I’ve written a more academically-oriented piece on British political parties’ cyber-revisionism with Mor Rubenstein, a current MSc student here at the OII. This was published yesterday on the LSE Politics and Policy blog, and you can read it here. Mor’s undergraduate work on political parties on Facebook provided a useful counterpoint to party websites, and unearthed some deep ironies regarding the (dis)integration between the two platforms and some of the unintended consequences.
(The eagle-eyed may notice that the ‘Fahrenheit 401’ hook in the original post became ‘Fahrenheit 404’ – a less phonaesthetically evocative contrast with Bradbury’s 451 but more accurate, technically speaking…)
Quite understandably, book burning has a bad reputation. It is a scout badge for history’s nastiest antagonists – Nazis, Stalinists and the Taleban have indulged in it – and biblioclasm also provides the central motif for Ray Bradbury’s dystopian masterpiece Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which book paper burns), in which perversely named ‘firemen’ are tasked with obliterating burning outlawed books and occasionally the bookish. Continue reading “Fahrenheit 401: Digital Deletion Is Incompatible with Democracy”