Of course, we’re not in the same league. But this post on Mashable on efforts by the US Library of Congress to archive information on the web resonates deeply with my own efforts to archive web content in Sri Lanka at risk of disappearing.
With now around to 15 billion tweets, it’s good news that the US Library of Congress is archiving Twitter, but it’s not the only one to do so. However, it’s particularly telling and deeply saddening that content on news sites is the least archived.
In Managing the catastrophic loss of information and knowledge I posed a number of questions on the nature of web archiving and its inherent problems, chief of which is around file formats. Who today can remember, leave aside find a programme that is able to open, a .wp file (from Wordperfect)?
On Sri Lanka, I’m particularly pleased that Groundviews was one of the sites archived by the US Library of Congress as part of its archives on the Sri Lankan Presidential and General Elections 2010. If the selection for archival is an imprimatur of the quality and enduring relevance of content on a site, it is interesting that Groundviews was chosen.
On my own and for relatively little cost, I have endeavoured to archive sites that I have found useful in my work. Websites at Risk – Archiving information on human rights, governance and peace is a blog post that is anchored to sitesatrisksl.wordpress.com, a unique web initiative in Sri Lanka that I created precisely because so much of information on the erstwhile Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) on the web was at risk of suddenly going offline, and completely lost for posterity. One tragic example of this was the website of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), which after their work in Sri Lanka ended, was taken offline without any warning and content on it, vital for researchers and historians, lost.
Websites at Risk at present has complete archives of the following websites:
- Berghof Foundation (2)
- COI (1)
- Cost of War (1)
- CPA (1)
- Dept. of Census and Statistics (1)
- Eastern Revival (1)
- FMM (1)
- Groundviews (1)
- IIGEP (2)
- InfoShare (1)
- Jayantha Dhanapala (1)
- JVP (1)
- LTTE Dept. of IR (1)
- LTTE Peace Secretariat (2)
- Media at risk (1)
- National Freedom Front (1)
- NESOHR (1)
- Official Languages Commission (1)
- Political parties (1)
- Regaining Sri Lanka (1)
- SCOPP (3)
- Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF) (1)
- Tamil National Alliance (1)
- Tsunami (1)
- UNF-LTTE Peace Process (1)
- Vikalpa (1)
The number in parenthesis refers to the number of archives of that particular site or resource on the site. There are already resources here you can’t find anywhere else on the web.
Not unlike the US Library of Congress archives for the US presidential elections, Presidential election 2010: Campaign websites of key candidates archives the websites of the two leading candidates in the January 2010 presidential election in Sri Lanka, plus one other site that played an interesting role.
“A lot of what we do, particularly with the elections, goes away rather quickly,” says Abbie Grotke, a digital media project specialist on the Library of Congress’s web archiving team. “If the candidate loses the election, their website disappears.” It’s not at all different in Sri Lanka.
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process – .com version and Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process – Final bow are also interesting archives, for here I had to grapple with two official versions of the same site.
I’ve already had a number of librarians and researchers writing in to thank me for the archives that catalogue content vital for any record of Sri Lanka’s tryst with war and peace.