The Tangled Web is but a Fleeting Dream … but then again …


“Just a quick phone call to ask you if you could set up something to archive the University Web site, it should be pretty straight-forward for someone with your technical know-how.”

It is only a matter of time before someone in “Corporate Communications”, the “Freedom of Information Office” or some similar department comes to you with this sort of request. How would you (have you) react(ed) to it?

Many acres of virtual text have been penned on the subject of Web archiving (a fair proportion of them no longer available because the sites no longer exist:-) One of the major problems, which is well illustrated by the Wikipedia article on the subject, is that most authors have concentrated almost entirely on “How?” to do it and the (technical) difficulties that arise.

The speaker will argue that “How?” is the least of your problems. What is your institutional web site for and what purpose is archiving it supposed to serve. To put it another way, the questions: “What?”, “Why?”, “When?” and “Where?” come well before deciding if the “Who?” is you, or trying to determine “How?”.

As usual Currall asks awkward questions and never seems to provide any useful answers, just turning seemingly simple problems in complex, issue-strewn minefields. He hasn’t written the talk yet, but you can be sure that it will raise some very fundamental issues and give you something serious to think about and discuss and aside from manufacturing Shakespearean quotes, will probably quote from the most read book in the English Language, although you might feel the need to check that he isn’t just making it up!

On the other hand … you could just leave it all to the Way Back Machine at the Internet Archive.