Writing Assignment #2: Archive development and the Internet Archive

Archive development and Internet Archive

Archive is the accumulation or collection of historical records. As we come to the new era of doing history research, digital archive becomes a popular means for scholars to preserve data in the long term and a tool that can be easily navigated by using metadata to label and organize the existing documents.  Internet Archive is a perfect example that exemplifies what a digital archive consists of and how it functions in a digital age.

Internet Archive is a private, nonprofit database that serves to collect free documents, music, videos and movies. According to Rosenzwig’s article, by February 2002, the Internet Archive has gathered 100 terabytes of web data and the number is still going up as years pass by. What makes the Internet Archive successful is that it does not only allow professional historians or archivists to collect data and gather document, but also let the public to preserve data that they think are worth preserving. As Rosenzwig states, the Internet Archive is “a grass-roots, immediate, enthusiast response to the crisis of digital preservation”. Although this project might have a low credibility than an archive built up by archivists, it still shows the publisher, contributor and the source of the information.

As a DH project, the Internet Archive has an interactive and user-friendly interface, in which the front page offers a search engine that allows the user to navigate themselves to their desired information. As a result, the project highly relies on tagging of images, documentation and videos. There is also a section that lists some of the popular tags that have the most items in them in order to navigate users who are not sure what they are looking for. I personally used this feature a lot last year for my Intro to Video class. We used this archive as a collection of videos and musics that can be considered as the raw materials as our own video project. It is really useful just to browse what each tag has under them and to figure out which one exactly I wanted to use. Even more, the website allows users to download the file. This might be convenient for those who are benefiting from this free archive, but it also raises the issue of copyright and whether the archive has the right to publish all the free sources on the internet.

References:

Rosenzweig, Roy. “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era.” (2003), http://chnm.gmu.edu/essays-on-history-newmedia/essays/?essayid=6

The Internet Archive, https://archive.org/

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