UK Web Archive blog

Information from the team at the UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites

The UK Web Archive, the Library's premier resource of archived UK websites


News and views from the British Library’s web archiving team and guests. Posts about the public UK Web Archive, and since April 2013, about web archiving as part as non-print legal deposit. Editor-in-chief: Jason Webber. Read more

04 December 2019

What is left behind? Exploring the Olympic Games legacies through the UK Web Archive

By Caio Mello, Doctoral Researcher at the School of Advanced Study, University of London

The Olympic Games happen every four years. This means that every four years a city has to be chosen as a host city. It is easy to think about the impact of hosting such a big event in your own country. Usually governments have to prepare everything for their guests and be aware that the local population is expecting something that will remain as a legacy after the event ends. But what are people actually expecting? What usually happens after the Olympics? Are people happy or unhappy with the legacy left behind with the end of the games? We can try to answer these questions by reading what was published on the internet before, during and after the games in these countries that have hosted the Olympics.

This project will be looking at the media coverage of the two most recent Olympics that took place in London (2012) and Rio (2016). Our main goal is to detect the kind of legacy that had been covered by the media and also the sentiments behind the articles, considering how they had changed over time. This analysis will provide us with insights about what sort of legacy people usually expect and what are their feelings when they face the materialization of their plans some years later. This kind of research has many possible applications. It can help governments to plan better public policies as well as provide us with tools to understand the impacts of such big events, what can be used to find solutions.


What do we mean by Olympic Legacy?
Despite being an important pillar of the Olympic Movement and also regularly brought up to justify cities – and nations – participation in the event, the concept of legacy is not very clear and has still been requiring some effort of scholars and members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to determine – or even get closer of – what it exactly means. Legacy can be basically understood here as being all the results generated by the event.

Among the most recognizable legacies of Olympic Games are the sports infrastructure - such as new stadiums and training venues – and the urban planning – which involves many aspects such as new residential areas and new transportation infrastructure, for instance. But it is not reducible to material – or “hard” – legacy. There are also many abstract/immaterial legacies that can be called as soft legacies. As an example it is possible to mention the national self-confidence, production of new ideas, popular memory and additional know-how.

It is important to point out that legacy does not have to be positive, although most of the time it is used in positive contexts. There are possible negative legacies such as debts from planning or construction and infrastructure that is not needed after the event.

This research is part of the CLEOPATRA Innovative Training Network and it has been conducted under a PhD developed at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London. The project is entitled ‘Nationalism, internationalism and sporting identity: the London and Rio Olympics’. For more information:

20 November 2019

Militarism and its role in the commemoration of British war dead

By Liam Markey, Collaborative Doctoral Student, University of Liverpool

Mediating Militarism: Chronicling 100 Years of Military Victimhood from Print to Digital, 1918-2018 is an ESRC funded CASE studentship in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and the British Library. The project aims to assess militarism and its role in the commemoration of the British war dead since the end of the First World War.
By taking advantage of unique access to print and digital materials captured and held by the British Library my aim is to chronicle the changing public portrayal of the British war dead from the print to the digital age, evaluating the role this portrayal plays in the mediation of militarism in the process.


What is Militarism?
Militarism, generally defined as the glorifying of war and invasion of the civilian sphere by military ideals, manifests itself in a variety of ways that depend heavily on contemporary politics, alongside both military and social developments. In the case of Britain, national narratives surrounding the First World War have played a key role in the development of the nation’s own form of militarism.

The nature of Britain’s involvement in the First World War meant that following the Armistice of 11th November 1918, a multitude of commemorative practices were developed in order to facilitate the mourning of an entire nation. British soldiers who had died abroad were not repatriated following the war, meaning tangible sites of mourning, such as the Cenotaph in London, were created as focal points of British remembrance. A unique language and symbology surrounding the commemoration of the war dead developed. Fallen soldiers began to be venerated as almost Christ-like figures, and symbols such as the poppy became tangible representations of commemoration, these practices continue into the present day and have saturated British attitudes to the military and the waging of war.

UK Web Archive
How, then, can the UK Web Archive assist in the development of this research project? Websites curated by the archive provide us with a valuable look at how ordinary British people and communities interact with these commemorative practices, and I am interested in looking at how the language and symbols popularised over the past century are reproduced, for example, in amateur websites. One of the big questions I have been asking as I carry out my research is how the First World War leaving living memory has affected the function of these practices.

Using the UK Web Archive to assess the British discourse around those who were killed in the war, be it regarding a family member or a soldier who served in a local regiment, will prove fascinating when interrogating ideas such as the sanitisation and trivialisation of war.

Does language steeped in religious rhetoric glorify war, representing the saturation of British commemorative practices with militarism over the past century, or instead are they an insight into the more personal and isolated forms of commemoration distinct from national narratives we are presented with in the media? Does an excessive use of the poppy on both amateur and media websites reflect this potent symbol’s original meaning or has it been hijacked to serve more nationalistic and militaristic purposes?

Materials collected by the UK Web Archive will prove invaluable in answering these questions.

04 October 2019

UKWA Website Crawl - One hour in One minute

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, The British Library

Each year we attempt to collect as much of the UK web space as we can. This typically involves millions of websites and billions of individual assets (images, pdf's, css files etc.). We send out our robots across the interwebs looking for websites that we can archive. The bots follow links to pages that have links to follow and it keeps going until we have archived (almost) everything. But what does it look like to 'crawl' the web? Here we have condensed an hour of live web crawling into a one minute video:

Every circle is a different website, and every line represents a link that was followed between websites. The size of the circle represents how many pages we visited from that site, and the width of the line represents the number of links we followed.

If you want to see what we are crawling at the moment, look here (NOTE: this link only works while we are crawling the web):

You can see what we have captured at our website (, however, many of the sites themselves can only be viewed in the reading rooms of UK Legal Deposit Libraries. 

Despite our best efforts we can't collect every UK owned website as many are hosted abroad and not under a .UK (looking at you wordpress, squarespace and wix). You can nominate a website here: