This research seminar aims to explicitly consider that research happens in context. This presentation proposes to address the topic of born-digital heritage and in particular of web archives in context. It aims to question the past, present and future paths of research based on the plethora of born-digital sources that developed from the mid-1990s. Analysis of web archives requires both taking into account the very shaping of these archives - e.g. web archiving in context - and placing research on these web archives in context, from the early studies of the 2000s which focused on the nature of web archives themselves and the methods for studying them to current research that takes them as sources for exploring digital cultures. Thus, the first two parts of our presentation, devoted respectively to the history of web archiving and of web archives in research, will explore the multiple contextual elements at work. These may be related to the Web itself and its evolution, to institutional policies, or to crawling and analysis tools, and understanding them is crucial for addressing the current and future challenges that will arise for researchers, whether they concern transnational approaches, ethical issues or a claim for enhanced contextualization. In conclusion we will broaden the question to digital humanities, and consider why web archive studies have remained relatively marginalised in digital humanities discourse.
This is the eighth event in the Digital Humanities Long View, a joint seminar series co-hosted by the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) at Stanford and UCL's Centre for Digital Humanities that explores the history of DH and how this past informs the future of digital humanist methods.