Catching up with past NDSA Innovation Awards Winners: Archive Team

 

Nominations are now being accepted for the NDSA 2020 Innovation Awards.

Archive Team won a 2013 Innovation Award in the Organization category. Archive Team was recognized for both for its aggressive, vital work in preserving websites and digital content slated for deletion and for its work advocating for the preservation of digital culture within the technology and computing sectors. The answers below were provided by Jason Scott.

 

What has Archive Team been doing since receiving an NDSA Innovation Award? 

Since receiving the award, Archive Team has gone through a half-dozen generations of volunteers, entering idealistic young eggs and leaving as some sort of burnt-crisp buffalo wings. Our numbers have grown and shrank but generally are high, as people realize how fundamentally fragile and undependable the web continues to be and the need for someone, anyone, to provide a decent mirroring of user data.

We’ve been involved in well over 100 major projects to save websites and especially user-created works over the years, and untold thousands of tiny one-off jobs that our automated mirror service, ArchiveBot, has been sent over to do. On an average day, we generate a terabyte of preserved web content that often ends up at Internet Archive.

At the NDSA event we announced we had modified WGET to support WARC – just this year we have a new version of our use of WGET which has a strong attention to compression, meaning we’re saving a lot of space. For a rag-tag set of maniacs, that’s pretty good.

What did receiving the NDSA Award mean to you?

It mostly let us poke our head into established archivist world, which is a nice world even if we’re not a part of it. Being an activist can make you start to believe you’re the only force in the world, running forward without any need of collaboration or peers. The award gave us contact and awareness that we’re not alone, which made us better and mindful of practices and efforts that were doing items similar to us. We’re still the funniest, though.

What efforts, advances, or ideas over the last few years have you been impressed with or admired in the area of digital stewardship?

The Software Heritage foundation has been tireless in recognizing the important meaning of software and the source code behind it to keep that level of history alive. From a few people advocating to it to companies like github now working to mirror as many repositories as possible in solid data stores is a big deal.

The discovery and rediscovery that history is not only written by the winners, but stored as well; along with this is a greater need to have records of websites and history to prove points and provide evidence, and we’ve been delighted to be part of that.

One of the 2020 NDSA Agenda research priorities is environmental sustainability and sustainability of digital collections. How is Archive Team addressing these issues?

We’re not; we’re too busy saving thousands of URLs that are dying out from underneath us. We haven’t caught a breath in 11 years.

Is there anything we didn’t ask that you want to add? 

Hello, established Archive People! Archive Team is always looking for you to moonlight and join the rough and tumble band of singing dancing chorus line of volunteers we run through like off-brand batteries. Test yourself at https://archiveteam.org.