World Wide Web of Humanities Project

NEH/JISC Transatlantic Digitization Collaborative Grants Program

Project Timeline: April 2008 - March 2009

Project Funders:
This project was funded under the JISC/NEH transatlantic digitisation collaborative grants program. As part of its Digital Humanities Initiative, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in the United States joined with the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom to offer support for digitization projects in the humanities. These grants provided funding for one year of development in any of the following areas:

  • new digitization projects and pilot projects,
  • the addition of important materials to existing digitization projects, or
  • the development of infrastructure (either technical “middleware,” tools, or knowledge-sharing) to support U.S.-England digitization work.

Project Description:
The World Wide Web is enormous and is in constant flux, with more web content lost to time than is currently accessible via the live Web. The growing body of archived web material available to researchers is immensely valuable as a record of important aspects of modern society. But, there is little, if any, supporting infrastructure, processes and trusted methods available to facilitate domain specific Internet research. Humanities researchers are expected to individually assemble research data and e-Research tools needed for analysis. This can be cost-prohibitive in terms of resources and time.

This one year project sought to begin to address this gap by establishing a possible framework for e-Humanities (also called Digital Humanities) research using available open source tools and technologies and archived web content. The goal was to create novel research interfaces to the first of many, scholarly, e-Humanities web collections. Within the context of this project, the term 'web collections' is used to describe collections of archived websites and "born digital" content. Sample collections of materials relating to World Wars I and II were compiled to help illustrate researcher needs and requirements, and in anticipation of further development of tools for working with the very large volumes of data housed by digital archives such as the Internet Archive.

Project Participants:
The WWWoH project was a collaboration between the Internet Archive, The Oxford Internet Institute, and Hanzo Archives. The Oxford Internet Institute and the Australian National University contributed expertise in web research and led the curation of these collections for application and use by humanities scholars. Both the Internet Archive and Hanzo applied extensive experience in web archiving and in the creation of web collections, including the largest of all web collections, the Internet Archive’s Web collection accessible via the WayBack Machine (www.archive.org) to extract, assemble, and make accessible archival data germane to this project. In addition to Internet Archive staff, the following individuals were instrumental in this project:

  • Robert Ackland, Australian National University (ANU)
  • Mark Middleton, Hanzo Archives
  • William Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute (OII)
  • Christine Madsen, Oxford Internet Institute (OII)
  • Eric Meyer, Oxford Internet Institute (OII Principal Investigator)
  • Ralph Schroeder, Oxford Internet Institute (OII)
  • NEH
  • JISC
  • Oxford Internet Institute
  • Oxford University
  • Internet Archive
  • Hanzo Archives