E-archive planned for US attack Web sites

The digital archive will be a historical record of the Internet coverage devoted to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

The US Library of Congress is backing the creation of a digital archive of Web pages and sites that have been set up in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington last week.

Hundreds of Web sites have been set up around the world since 11 September to exchange information about the disaster. The Web Preservation Team at the Library of Congress, a group called the Internet Archive and a research project hosted at webArchivist.org are working in collaboration to build an electronic historical record of this time, which will be available to all members of the public.

"This will be the largest single archive of Web material related to an atrocity of this kind," said Kirsten Foot, assistant professor of communications at the University of Washington, who is involved in the webArchivist.org project. "We are developing tools to annotate and code Internet material, in order to make sense of something that is evolving in time in a ephemeral way."

The archive will break new ground by taking an initial snapshot of the Web sites, and will then capture changes within the sites on a daily basis. A technique called "Web Fear" analysis will be used to observe the treatment of the attacks in the aftermath of the event.

Members of the public are being encouraged to identify sites that offer information about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "We are especially interested in finding sites by individuals -- that record their feelings, experiences and opinions. We are also interested in finding non-American sites," reads the webArchivist request. The research team is providing the public with tools on its Web site that will allow them to tag, annotate, code and sort any URLs being captured. The process will then be repeated more thoroughly by the webArchivist academics.

The archive is still in its early stages of development, but will be available online to all members of the public for free.

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