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NEW tool for Archiving Social Media–Instagram and Facebook

From Jon Ippolito, Professor of New Media,Director, Digital Curation graduate program, The University of Maine

Orono, ME  Digital conservator Dragan Espenschied and the crew at Rhizome, one of the leading platforms for new media art, have created a tool for archiving social media such as Instagram and Facebook.

Rhizome's novel application enables archivists to act as "human spiders" (my term) to mouse around a Web page  and capture HTTP requests and responses in real time. Called Colloq, it's a bit like surfing the Web while wearing a GoPro helmet, but the result is interactive HTML rather than a video capture. The resulting WARC files can be reconstituted into interactive pages for future users.

This tool is necessary because more and more of these stream-based sites don't have static HTML that you can download to disk. Instagram, for example, is constructed on the fly from JavaScript calls that fill out parts of the page as they are explored by their users. (You've experienced this effect if you've scrolled to what you thought was the bottom of a Web page only to have the page add more content "below the fold.")

More information:

• A Dynamic New Tool to Preserve the Friendsters of the Future - NYTimes.com

• The Many Uses of Rhizome’s New Social Media Preservation Tool - Hyperallergic


Rhizome, a New York nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and conserving digital artwork