Archiving Social Media

I have written two articles on the topic of archiving social media:

1. Archiving Social Media in the Context of Non-print Legal Deposit

This paper was submitted to the 2014 IFLA Conference. The conference coincided with my holiday so my colleague Caroline Brazier kindly presented the paper on my behalf. It is apparently also being translated into Russian by the Russian State Library, which publishes an electronic  journal “News of IFLA” with translations of the best papers presented at IFLA WLIC 2014.

Social media is the collective name given to Internet-based or mobile applications which allow users to form online networks or communities based on common interest, social or ideological orientations. Such applications take many forms but their main purpose is to support interaction and communication among the members of a community, including the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are examples of large social networking platforms, which aggregate many forms of media into one place and are used globally for business, research and personal communications. Social media have become increasingly prevalent in people’s lives and also important sources for scholars to understand our time. Social media have also become an important area of consideration and a key challenge for web archiving institutions. This is perhaps the most demanded content by researchers, yet a combination of legal, curatorial and technical issues has made archiving of social media content a non-trivial task. To date there are no scalable solutions to preserving such content. There is thus a need to address the problem collectively, starting with discussing common issues and practices. This paper provides an overview of the current approaches to archiving social media including their pro and cons. It also reports on how the British Library addresses this, discussing the key considerations and decisions both prior to and after the non-print Legal Deposit regulations became effective – these were introduced by the UK government in April 2013. It will in addition examine the initiatives and possibilities outside the web archiving community, offering thoughts on new models potentially appropriate to archiving social media content. This paper intends to provoke thoughts about some fundamental questions, e.g. whether our current approaches are valid, and whether national libraries should prioritise archiving public social media content.

2. Archiving Social Media

This was a shorter, more general paper written in 2013 for Off the Record, E-magazine published by Archives and Records Association (ARA) UK & Ireland.


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