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

09 January 2020

If Websites Could Talk - Part 3 (this time it's personal)

By Hedley Sutton, Team Leader, Asian & African Studies Reference Services

After a long gap of time, we are back eavesdropping on a conversation among U.K. domain websites as they try and decide which of their number should be recognized as the most extraordinary site of all.

“Who would like to begin?” said the Museum of Fenland Drainage. “Perhaps you, Catholic Association of Performing Arts?”

“If you’re going to get all religious, then I think we should be considered,” said the Equinox Pilgrimage of the Glastonbury Zodiac.

“Religions are merely derelict husks of an impoverished intellectual paradigm,” mused the UK Sartre Society. “We’d be far more inclined to nominate a site encapsulating the essential shallowness of contemporary culture.”

“Such as … us, perhaps?” chipped in Desperate Optimists.

“Rubbish!” cried Primal Bushcraft & Survival. “We want a site that’s rugged and tough!”

“Then you surely mean us,” said Adrenalin Addicts. “We’re much tougher than you!”

“Now now, just calm down,” said the Challenging Behaviour Foundation soothingly. “Why don’t you two make up and have a little chat with the Balloon and Party Professionals Association? If you don’t, we may need to use the services of Action for Happiness. Or in the worst case scenario, the British Pain Society. ”

“If you are lucky, you might make the British Blacklist."

“How about a song?” chuckled the *Falmouth Fish Sea Shanty Collective*. We’d now like to entertain you all with a duet with our dear friends the Cornish Sardine Management Association. The National Federation of Fishmongers may like to join in too.”

“Fish doesn’t seem to agree with us,” said the UK Men’s Sheds Association, changing the subject. “We usually find we have to go running to the Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists.”

In the background the Apostrophe Protection Society could be seen, mouthing the words “Thank you.”

“Keep still!” pleaded the Big Wasp Survey. “I think I see one. Look out, Flea Circus Research Library, it’s heading your way!”

“We’re getting off the point,” sighed the Pylon Appreciation Society. “A sing song or an insect hunt aren’t going to help us decide.”

With time running out, they eventually decided that the best qualified candidate site would be … Perfect Information.

Also see:

If websites could talk

If websites could talk (again) 


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.