How Fast is the Web Archiving?
Describing how quickly we can archive content when needed
10 May 2013
We are often asked how we select content for the PANDORA Archive. Much of the selection process is planned and considered and procedural, but the web is a dynamic and live medium propelled nowadays by social media - and as web archiving curators we need to be able to respond quickly. So, I though an example of a site collected this week migh be of interest. The issue of the National Broadband Network policy is one of the most contested in the lead up to this year's Federal Election in September. There is much commentary in the media and on the web. At 3pm on Tuesday 7th May James Brotchie launched his site How Fast is the NBN? and in his own words it 'just exploded on social networks ... liked by over 50,000 people on Facebook and tweeted over 6000 times on Twitter'. One way we keep in touch with interesting developments on the web that may lead us to select content for PANDORA is to, judiciously, tap in to social media. This was a rare occasion where I was able to beat my skilled colleagues in registering this title for archiving; and I did that on Wednesday morning (8th May) after I became aware of the site checking my morning Twitter feeds - ok, I was a little slow! As is required under the legal framework in which legal deposit is yet to be extended to digital material, we sought permission from Mr Brotchie, emailing him at 12:24pm on Thursday 9th May. At 12:43pm a delighted Mr Brotchie provided the necessary licence under the Copyright Act 1968 allowing us to proceed with the archiving. By 13:14 we had harvested the site which is now subject to long-term preservation in the PANDORA Archive. As it turns out this site displeased the Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband, Malcolm Turnbull, who published a long blog post a day after the launching of the How Fast is the NBN? website to refute its claims. And, at the very time we were obtaining archiving permission from Mr Brotchie, technology writer Stilgherrian was writing in Crikey also claiming the site was not a fair and accurate representation. Mr Brotchie replied to his critics, also in Crikey, on May 10th. So, through keeping in touch with social media we were able to complete a timely harvest of a website that rapidly became the interest itself of social media, media and politicians. The site is still there on the live web, but in acting quickly we have captured the site right at the time that it's launch sparked interest and some mild controversy - and future researchers will be able to see that. And yes, we do have Mr Turnbull's site and Crikey scheduled for harvesting to pick up the context discussed here.
Screen shot of James Brotchie's How Fast is the NBN? website