January 23, 2022

Conference Paper: “Bots, Seeds and People: Web Archives as Infrastructure”

The following conference paper was recently shared on arXiv will be presented at CSCW ’17, February 25-March 01, 2017 in Portland, OR.


Bots, Seeds and People: Web Archives as Infrastructure


Ed Summers
University of Maryland

Ricardo Punzalan
University of Maryland


via arXiv


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.

Direct to Full Text Article (14 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.