Bots, Seeds and People: Web Archives as Infrastructure


The field of web archiving provides a unique mix of human and automated agents collaborating to achieve the preservation of the web. Centuries old theories of archival appraisal are being transplanted into the sociotechnical environment of the World Wide Web with varying degrees of success. The work of the archivist and bots in contact with the material of the web present a distinctive and understudied CSCW shaped problem. To investigate this space we conducted semi-structured interviews with archivists and technologists who were directly involved in the selection of content from the web for archives. These semi-structured interviews identified thematic areas that inform the appraisal process in web archives, some of which are encoded in heuristics and algorithms. Making the infrastructure of web archives legible to the archivist, the automated agents and the future researcher is presented as a challenge to the CSCW and archival community.

DOI: 10.1145/2998181.2998345

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Summers2017BotsSA, title={Bots, Seeds and People: Web Archives as Infrastructure}, author={Ed Summers and Ricardo Punzalan}, booktitle={CSCW}, year={2017} }