The British Library is set to begin a massive archiving project of 1 billion webpages from local (.uk) domains starting April 6th. The archiving project is meant to preserve digital records for posterity, and also includes public Facebook updates and tweets. It will also include eBooks and iPad editions of newspapers, among other forms of digital information. The digital records will be preserved across six libraries in the UK and Ireland. The project aims to capture the slices of life from our present and preserve them for the future.
Lucie Burgess, head of strategy at the library, believes many momentous events have passed by without any effort to capture them. For instance, the response of social media to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations has been lost to the “digital blackhole” of the 21st century. The British Library will try to identify UK sites in the .org and .com domains as well, and only publicly available information will be archived. Readers at any of the six libraries participating in the project will be able to access the data.
According to the library, the digital archiving project seeks to replicate the existing archives for printed matter, but while the latter could only archive 750 million pages in 300 years, the digital one will collect 1 billion webpages in a year and then take it beyond that. The British Library project reminds us of a similar project started early this year by the Library of Congress to archive all public tweets in the U.S.
What do you think of digital archiving? Should Facebook updates and tweets be archived?