This talk reviews recent work on web archives as objects of study, and as sources for historical research. Following the familiar distinction between software and hardware, I argue that web archives deserve to be treated as a third category – memoryware: specific forms of preservation techniques which involve both software and hardware, but also crawlers, bots, curators and users. While historically the term memoryware refers to the art of cementing together bits and pieces of sentimental objects to commemorate loved ones, understanding web archives as complex socio-technical memoryware moves beyond their perception as bits and pieces of the live Web. Instead, understanding web archives as memoryware hints at the premise of the Web’s exceptionalism in media and communication history, and calls for revisiting some of the concepts and best practices in web archiving and web archive research that have consolidated over the years. The talk therefore presents new challenges for web archive research, by turning a critical eye on web archiving itself, and on the specific types of histories that are constructed with web archives.
Dr. Anat Ben-David is a senior lecturer in the department of Sociology, Political Science and Communication. She is co-founder of the Open University's Open Media and Information Lab (OMILab). Focusing on New Media, her primary research interests are history and geopolitics of the Web, Digital STS, social and political studies of social media, and digital and computational methods for Web research.
Wednesday, 24 February 2021, from 14.00 to 15.00
Online - Webex.
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