The “archivability” of a website is gaining traction as a major consideration for developers and designers who want to create everlasting and deliberate internet products. Alongside accessibility and site performance, archivability is another factor that the internet community and digital contributors should account for when publishing content on the web. According to the Stanford University Libraries, the term archivability is “the ease with which the content, structure, functionality, and front-end presentation(s) of a website can be preserved and later re-presented, using contemporary web archiving tools.” Even though my spellcheck is underlining archivability in red as a non-word, the concept of digital archivability is worth defining, understanding, and implementing.
Current trends in web development have me wondering if The Internet Archive is ill-equipped to fully preserve tomorrow’s internet. The Internet Archive recognizes that they themselves can not fully document dynamic pages. On The Internet Archive’s Frequently Asked Questions, it says the archive is unable to contain a site’s original functionality if the site contains interactive elements. Do we need to reevaluate the solutions that have been developed to combat the “link rot” and internet decay mentioned in The New Yorker article “The Cobweb” by Jill Lepore?
Do you think it is the responsibility of archivists to build better archiving tools that account for all language variations and trends? Or do you think the responsibility of archivability lies with the people that build and design the web? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both? Sound off in the comments (which will hopefully be archived by Medium for posterity).
(P.S. The original article by Ed Summers was duplicated in a Medium group called “On Archive” that focuses on internet archiving as it applies to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Check it out here: https://medium.com/on-archivy)