Web archiving in the Netherlands: towards national collaboration

Post date: Oct 31, 2014 4:14:33 PM

On the 30th of October, 2014, the NCDD Web archiving in the Netherlands (Webarchivering in Nederland) symposium took place. The main aims of the symposium were to provide insights into web archiving practices in the Netherlands, to provide practical examples of the use of Web archives, and to potentially foster collaboration in the Dutch Web archiving field.

More than 130 participants saw Helen Hockx-Yu, head of Web archiving at the British Library, opening the conference with her inspirational keynote Working together to archive the UK Web. She provided perspectives on Web archiving on a national scale, including the challenges and opportunities. Helen also presented the British Library's ongoing initiatives of actively supporting scholars to use Web archives for their research, and the impact this had on archiving practices.

The next presentation shed light on the Web archiving activities of the National Library of the Netherlands (KB). René Voorburg highlighted the danger of getting stuck in the eternal now, since our future digital cultural heritage is highly at risk. The KB is limited by a restrictive legal environment in the Netherlands, since websites cannot be archived without permission. However, the KB is archiving an increasingly representative set of Dutch websites. This now includes not only sites selected by curators, but also selections of popular sites and event-based harvests.

Websites including audiovisual content are often very difficult to harvest. Julia Vytopil (Beeld en Geluid) and Chloé Martin (Internet Memory Research) highlighted these aspects in their presentations. Julia discussed ongoing efforts of B&G to archive broadcaster's and related websites. She explained that broadcaster's websites serve as an important "context" collection for their audiovisual archives. However, there are challenges in terms of privacy, and severe technical limitations in the crawling of audiovisual content of these sites.

In the afternoon, the focus was moved to the actual users of Web archives. Wim de Bie, a famous Dutch comedian, writer and singer, and GertJan Kuiper (VPRO Digitaal) presented "Bieslog: from digital pioneers to archiving puzzle". As it turned out, the award-winning blogging efforts by Wim de Bie were ultimately lost. They lively described the efforts to retrieve and recover the blog's contents, which only succeeded partially and highlighted the importance of archiving efforts. 

Next, Hugo Huurdeman of WebART took the stage and presented ways to enable scholarly research using Web archives. Hugo described current limitations in analytical Web archive access, and potential ways to overcome these issues, based on intense collaboration of New media researchers and system designers in a Living Lab.

Finally, all speakers, plus Marcel Privé (archiefweb.eu) and Tjarda de Haan (Re:DDS) joined for the panel discussion. Diverse propositions were discussed, like the potential enforcement of 'archivability' for websites in the public sector, and the (potential) importance of archiving social media. A lively discussion followed, and the inspirational afternoon finished with a plea for collaboration, enthusiastically received by the panelists and audience.