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Archive for the ‘usability’ Category

Today during my lunch break I took a few minutes to revisit the following web archives for September 11, 2001.

September 11, 2001 Web Archive (Library of Congress)

September 11, 2001 Digital Archive (Center for History and New Media)

I had looked at both sites briefly last spring in a Web Archiving course and think there are a number of interesting aspects of each site. They serve different purposes, contain different types of digital data, and perhaps target different audiences.

Creating a focused web archive is a detailed process. While the technology is becoming more accessible for anyone to create their own web archive, the time it takes to establish policies, procedures, infrastructure, and workflow for a web archive is demanding. Such tasks as developing a collecting scope/policy, acquiring the content, performing quality control and post processing, preserving the web sites, and creating access for use of the content are all factors that need to be addressed.

My first reactions today were really focused on the design and usability of the sites. It is great that there is more literature on making decisions regarding the topics listed above. I think curators of both digital collections and web archives needs to start paying attention to the design and usability of the access points. For example, the Library of Congress’ browse feature could be helpful, but still hard to navigate easily (more subject access wouldn’t hurt either.) In addition, a search feature is still missing (search is available for other web archives maintained by the LOC.) The main access point for the LOC is still the catalog record which links to the archived web page.

The archive maintained by the Center for History and New Media has also made some interested design decisions (view the previous version of the archive.) The access points seem to be more user friendly to those not familiar with archival and library terminology. The interactive features such as “Type Your Story,” “Cut and Paste Your Email,” and “Upload Images, Documents, and Files” draw in the user to participate in archiving the nation’s experience and help to create a dynamic web archive.

Archivists are moving in a great direction in thinking about the user experience and design of archival web sites and access systems. I hope this trend spreads and becomes more common place in the digital archiving world as well.

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