End of Year Update

Earlier this week I looked at this website and realized I had not posted anything on here since January! That’s far too long to go without any updates, so here’s a few highlights of what I’ve been up to at the University of Maryland iSchool this year…

I have continued my research and work at the USDA National Agricultural Library, along with an additional project on the preservation of social media data from the Barack Obama presidential administration. Here are a few of the peer-reviewed papers I authored along with various colleagues that were published during the past few months:

  • Kahn, E., Arbuckle, P., Kriesberg, A. (2017) Challenge Paper: Challenges to Sharing Data and Models for Life Cycle Assessment. Journal of Data and Information Quality. 9(1), https://doi.org/10.1145/3106236
  • Kriesberg, A., Huller, K., Punzalan, R., Parr, C. (2017) An Analysis of Federal Policy on Public Access to Scientific Research Data. Data Science Journal. 16, p.27. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2017-027
  • Acker, A., & Kriesberg, A. (2017). Tweets may be archived: Civic engagement, digital preservation and Obama white house social media data: Tweets May Be Archived: Civic Engagement, Digital Preservation and Obama White House Social Media Data. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 54(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1002/pra2.2017.14505401001.

I’ve taught a total of three courses in the MLIS program to iSchool Masters students: INST 641: Policy and Ethics in Digital Curation, INST 643: Curation in Cultural Institutions, and INST 647: Management of Electronic Records and Information. I’ve included links to syllabi in the previous sentence to give an idea of the types of topics covered in these courses. My teaching experiences have been mostly very positive- I’ve enjoyed working with the students here in College Park and helping them develop the skills and knowledge to become successful archivists, librarians, and information professionals.

Beyond that, this year I traveled to Barcelona for the 9th RDA Plenary meeting, attended a workshop on the Impact of Digital Repositories, attended AERI in Toronto, and helped facilitate workshops here at the UMD Libraries on Wikipedia and steps to protect Endangered Data. It’s been quite a year!

I’d like to wish all my readers, colleagues, reviewers (even you, reviewer #2), family and friends a happy holiday season and new year. I’ll leave you with a seasonally appropriate GIF from the National Archives and a nod to next year’s Winter Olympics.



Web Archiving #Brexit

Like many of us around the world, I’ve been following the news out of the United Kingdom after the country voted to leave the EU late last month. In the aftermath of the vote, many Britons were shocked to discover that some of the “Leave” campaign’s promises related to the money paid to the E.U. by the United Kingdom were not going to come to fruition. These are documented across the web, but this succinct Boing Boing post highlights the attempts by these politicians to erase their old campaign website from the internet. Thanks to the Internet Archive, it continues its life as a cached copy, documenting the change to the website which removed content relating to increasing funding for the National Health Service, among other social programs. I was struck by the power of web archiving to document political movements as they are represented online, and how they make it more difficult for politicians to eliminate potentially embarrassing content from the internet.

This article reminded me of another excellent example of the power of web archiving, from the New Yorker article “The Cobweb” by Jill Leopore. She explained that the internet archive also preserved a copy of a website maintained by Ukrainian separatists which appears to show that this group was responsible for downing the Malaysia Airlines flight which went down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Why was this particular site was crawled by Internet Archive bots? Well, because:

Anatol Shmelev, the curator of the Russia and Eurasia collection at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford, had submitted to the Internet Archive, a nonprofit library in California, a list of Ukrainian and Russian Web sites and blogs that ought to be recorded as part of the archive’s Ukraine Conflict collection.

I recognize that these two events are not particularly related, other than the fact that web archiving figures in our attempts to understand current events and monitor how people represent themselves and their politics online. As more of our collective lives as humans are lived out in digital spaces, resources like the Internet Archive will only become more valuable as a way of piecing the past together. If you haven’t explored the Wayback Machine, give it a shot! I guarantee you’ll find some really interesting/fun/terrible/amazing old websites on there, just punch in a few domains and have fun…

(P.S. Jill Lepore is the best. Her first book, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity was a major inspiration for my senior honors thesis in History. Read it! Or, at least read more of her articles in the New Yorker, they are awesome.)


I’m a little late on this one, but I wanted to quickly comment on a new project, perma.cc, which came across my internet last week. Essentially, this is a tool (currently in beta but hopefully live soon!) that will allow users to submit web links for sources they would like to cite in academic articles. These links would have permanent URLs created for them, and have snapshots taken of their content for preservation.

A blog post I read about this project notes that link rot is pervasive across government reports (http://freegovinfo.info/node/4005). I will also add that in my short time in academia I have encountered numerous dead or otherwise incorrect links. This has proven frustrating at times and I’m happy to see some of my favorite institutions joining together to build a much-needed tool to enable digitally sustainable scholarship. Link rot is real- now something is being done about it.