Web archives as memoryware: critical reflections on sources and methods for web history

Introduced and chaired by Mark Phillips

Following the familiar distinction between software and hardware, this talk argues that web archives deserve to be treated as a third category –memoryware: specific forms of preservation techniques which involve both software and hardware, but also crawlers, bots, curators and users. While historically the term memoryware refers to the art of cementing together bits and pieces of sentimental objects to commemorate loved ones,understanding web archives as complex socio-technical memoryware moves beyond their perception as bits and pieces of the live web. Instead, web archives as memoryware hints at the premise of the web’s exceptionalism in media and communication history, and calls for revisiting some of the concepts and best practices in web archiving and web archive research that have consolidated over the years. The talk will therefore present new challenges for web archive research, by turning a critical eye on web archiving itself, and on the specific types of histories that are constructed with web archives.

Dr. Anat Ben-David

Dr. Anat Ben-David is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Political Science and Communication, and co-founder of the Open Media and Information Lab at the Open University of Israel. Focusing on the intersection between New Media and Science and Technology Studies, Ben-David researches the geopolitics of the web and online platforms.

Ben-David published several articles and book chapters on web history and web archive research, in which she used the archived web to study the histories of national webs of countries in transition, such as Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, and North Korea. Methodologically, Ben-David’s research attempts to develop computational methods and tools for advancing the scholarly use of web archives by social scientists.

KEYNOTE: Dr. Anat Ben-David, Open University of Israel