Leveraging Google Reader’s Page Change Tracking for Web Page Preservation

The Official Google Reader Blog recently announced a new feature that will let users watch any page for updates. The way this works is that you add individual URLs to your Google Reader account. Just as with regular RSS feeds, when an update is detected – a new entry is added to that subscription.

My thinking is that this could be a really useful tool for archivists charged with preserving websites that change gradually over time, especially those fairly static sites that change infrequently with little or no notice of upcoming changes. If a web page was archived and then added to a dedicated Google Reader account, the archivist could scan their list of watch pages daily or weekly. Changes could then trigger the creation of a fresh snapshot of the site.

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Posted on 26th January 2010
Under: at risk records, future-proofing, internet archiving, learning technology | 5 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Concertina History Online Features Virtual Collaboration and Digitization

In the early 1960s, my father bought a Wheatstone concertina in London. He tells how he visited the factory where it was made to pick one out and recalls the ledger book in which details about the concertinas were recorded. After a recent retelling of this family classic, I was inspired to see what might be online related to concertinas. I was amazed!

First I found the Concertina Library which presents itself as a ‘Digital Reference Collection for Concertinas’. With fourteen contributing authors, the site includes in depth articles on concertina history, technology, music, research and a wide range of concertina systems.

I particularly appreciate the reasons that Robert Gaskins, site creator, lists for the creation of the site on the about page:

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Posted on 10th January 2010
Under: audio, digitization, historical research, learning technology, original order, virtual collaboration | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Archival Photographs as Art: A Part of Larry Sultan’s Legacy

EvidenceLarry Sultan was famed as both a photographer and archives researcher. He passed away on Sunday, December 13th, 2009 and his obituary in the New York Times describes his use of archival photographs as “harnessing found photographs for the purposes of art while using them as a way to examine the society that produced them”. The 59 photographs, selected in collaboration with Mike Mandel from a broad assortment of corporate and government archives, were originally displayed and published as a collection named ‘Evidence’ in 1977. A reprint of Evidence was published in 2004, including a new scholarly essay and additional images not in the original.

The Stephen Wirtz Gallery has a number of images from the 2004 exhibition available online and features this great summary of the original project:

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Posted on 16th December 2009
Under: appraisal, book review, context, photography | 2 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Interactive Archivist: Spellbound Blog as a Case Study

I realized while at MARAC at the end of October that I never posted here about the completion and publication of the Interactive Archivist: Case Studies in Utilizing Web 2.0 to Improve the Archival Experience. The brainchild of J. Gordon Daines III and Cory Nimer, this free SAA ePublication only exists online and brings together ten Web 2.0 archivist-oriented case studies covering blogs, mashups, tagging, wikis, Facebook and more. It also includes thorough introductions to each of the technologies covered by case studies, an annotated bibliography and a link to a living list of resources on Delicious.

My contribution to the collection is titled Spellbound Blog: Using Blogs as a Professional Development Opportunity. I don’t spend much time on this blog talking about blogging, so if you ever wanted to know more about why I blog or are considering starting a blog yourself – my case study might be of interest.

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Posted on 17th November 2009
Under: archival community, interface design, learning technology, web 2.0 | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Blog Action Day 2009: IEDRO and Climate Change

IEDRO LogoIn honor of Blog Action Day 2009‘s theme of Climate Change, I am revisiting the subject of a post I wrote back in the summer of 2007: International Environmental Data Rescue Organization (IEDRO). This non-profit’s goal is to rescue and digitize at risk weather and climate data from around the world. In the past two years, IEDRO has been hard at work. Their website has gotten a great face-lift, but even more exciting is to see is how much progress they have made!

  • Weather balloon observations received from Lilongwe, Malawi (Africa) from 1968-1991: all the red on these charts represents data rescued by IEDRO — an increase from only 30% of the data available to over 90%.
  • Data rescue statistics from around the world
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Posted on 16th October 2009
Under: at risk records, Blog Action Day, digitization, future-proofing, transcription | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

Flickr Galleries: Fun with Flickr Commons

Over the past month I have been playing with Flickr’s new Galleries. Each gallery is limited to 18 images from anywhere in Flickr (provided that the image owner has made their image available for inclusion in galleries). I thought it might be fun to try my hand at picking the best of the new images added to the Flickr Commons each week.

Each Thursday over the past month I have created a Commons Picks of the Week gallery from the all the images added to the Commons in the prior 7 days.

Here are the galleries from the first month of my experiment. Let me know what you think.

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Posted on 12th October 2009
Under: interface design, outreach, photography, virtual collaboration | 1 Comment » | Print This Post Print This Post

SEO Evaluation of an Archival Website: Looking at UMBC’s Digital Collections

Flickr Commons: Do-it-yourself-womanEach week brings announcements of archives launching new websites. Today both my email and Twitter told me about  University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s new Digital Collections site. Who can resist peeking at new materials available online?

I have spent much of the past year learning the details of Search Engine Optimization. Usually shortened to SEO, this simply refers to the use of techniques which improve the traffic sent to a website via organic search. Want your webpage to show up at the top of the list for a specific search in Google? You want to work on your SEO.

So when I look at new archives website, I can’t help but keep an eye open for how well the site is optimized for search engines.

I hope that UMBC will forgive me for nitpicking their new site. A lot of their choices are great for SEO,  but they also have room for improvement.

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Posted on 12th September 2009
Under: access, context, interface design, search, SEO, software | 8 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

A History of Our Own, Representing Communities and Identities on the Web (SAA09: Session 202)

LOC Flickr Commons: Sylvia Sweets Tea RoomAndrew Flinn, University College London (UCL), was the second speaker during SAA09’s Session 202 with his presentation ‘A History of Our Own, Representing Communities and Identities on the Web’. Flinn began with the idea that archives are “a place for creating and re-working memory”. While independent community archives are constituted around many purposes, Flinn’s main interest is in communities focused on absences and mis-representation of a group or event in history. Communities in which there is a cultural, politcal, or artistic activism. Some of these communities may be considered ‘movements’.

How should/can archivists support local archiving activities?

Part of the challenge of online communities is the need to capture the interactions in order to not loose the full picture. The National Listing of Community Archives in the UK‘s website states that they “seek to document the history of all manner of local, occupations, ethnic, faith and other diverse communities”.

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Posted on 8th September 2009
Under: archival community, diversity, SAA2009, software, virtual collaboration, web 2.0 | 1 Comment » | Print This Post Print This Post

Archival Collections Online: Reaching Audiences Beyond The Edge of Campus (SAA09: Session 405)

The Archivist's Life, 23 May 1954Expanding Your Local and Global Audiences (Session 405, SAA 2009) shared how three institutions of higher education are using the web to reach out to new audiences. While the general public may still hold close the stereotype of archives as of rooms full of boxes of paper (not so different from this Duke image on Flickr: “Mattie Russell, curator of manuscripts, and Jay Luvaas, director of the Flowers Collection, examine the papers of Senator Willis Smith in the library vault.”), the presenters in this session are focused on expanding peoples’ experience of archives beyond boxes of papers locked away in a vault. They are using the web as a tool to reach beyond the walls of their reading rooms and the edges of their campuses.

Duke University Rare Books, Manuscript & Special Collections Library (RBMSCL) : Lynn Eaton (Reference Archivist)

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Posted on 25th August 2009
Under: access, archival community, interface design, learning technology, outreach, SAA2009, virtual collaboration, web 2.0 | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

SAA09: My Session on Online Communities (Session 101)

Thank you to everyone who came to our session this morning (Building, Managing, and Participating in Online Communities: Avoiding Culture Shock Online). Word on the street is that we had about 150 people in the audience.

As I mentioned during our talk – here is the Online Communities Comparison Chart. Please let me know if you have any issues accessing this document and feel free to share it with anyone you like.

If you had questions you were unable to ask during the session – please feel free to post them as comments below or send me a message via my  Contact Form. I will be sure to pass questions along to all the members of our panel. I also plan to update this post with links to everyone’s slides as they appear online.

Slides from our talk:

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Posted on 13th August 2009
Under: archival community, learning technology, SAA2009, virtual collaboration, web 2.0 | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

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