[LINK] Australia's online history 'facing extinction'

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu May 7 13:18:38 AEST 2009

Australia's online history 'facing extinction'
By Brigid Andersen
ABC News

Parts of Australia's valuable cultural history could be lost forever if web archiving is not seriously undertaken in Australia, the National Library of Australia has warned.

With information including art, photos, video and important government documents being published solely online, the library warns that history is at risk unless a stronger emphasis is placed on archiving.

"The web allows the ability to effectively 'un-publish' - to remove or change content - as easily as allows us to publish," the library's web archiving manager Paul Koerbin writes in an opinion piece for ABC Online today.

"Not only does this necessitate the quest for the timely capture of content for preservation, it creates deep voids since much will inevitably disappear without trace."

The library's senior librarian in web archiving, Edgar Crook, says that as new websites spring up everyday, recording every single one is impossible. 

Mr Crook says that while the National Library of Australia aims to archive webpages from all facets of society - from the Defence Force to Twitter - what has been documented is still only a small amount. 

"We've been going for quite a while and we have at the moment about 2.9 terabytes of information, but that is a drop in the ocean to what has been produced since 1996," he said. 

"So we're trying, we're capturing a small amount and we're hoping that is going to be relevant."

Mr Crook says it is crucial the archiving work continues as what is not captured by the National Library's archives could be lost forever. 

The archives include government pages and business reports as well as a broad snapshot of Australian society, with pages like Balls in the Bush - dedicated to promoting BnS balls and the Australian Doctor Who Club's website. 

"We've done the new Defence white paper. We're doing the sites to do with swine influenza. We do a vast range," Mr Crook said. 

"We've done the Prime Minister's Twitter page."


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au


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