Official websites to be archived for future generations
National Records of Scotland is to preserve snapshots of key public websites
Scottish Parliament website - Image credit: Scottish Parliament
National Records of Scotland (NRS) is to begin archiving key public websites to make them available for future generations of researchers.
Like documents, websites contain information that could be of use to historians of the future, but unlike archived documents, when information changes websites may be updated and the information lost altogether.
However, a new NRS web continuity service aims to tackle this problem by storing snapshots of the online information of key public organisations that already deposit archive information with NRS.
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These include the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament, Scottish courts, public inquiries and other public and private organisations.
The Scottish Parliament has already started using the service.
Scottish Parliament information manager Gordon Hobbs added: “The web archive is helping us to think differently about our online presence, and how our users can access the information they need, be this current or historic.”
National Records of Scotland is working with a commercial supplier, Internet Memory Research, to operate the free service.
It will capture information in the public domain by regularly crawling websites after agreeing the correct handling of any sensitive information and intellectual property rights with their owners.
As well as helping future researchers, NRS says it should also reduce the number of broken links on live websites where information has been archived.
Tim Ellis, chief executive of NRS and keeper of the records of Scotland, said: “In an era of ‘fake news’ where the authenticity of information is scrutinised and challenged, the Web Continuity Service will allow users to access accurate historical information, and make it clear when they are reading archived content.
“This new service allows us to preserve information for the future and keep it available now to the people who need it, supporting open and transparent government.”
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