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Thursday, October 11 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
Asking Questions of Digital Culture: Exploring Vernacular Culture Via Web Archives

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The web has significantly blurred lines between vernacular cultures and mass culture. Increasingly, records of what would have been fleeting or ephemeral exchanges and interactions of everyday people are born digital. People create and share memes, they deploy reaction GIFs in dialog, they participate in a range of rolling conversations across a wide range of forums and sites. In recognition, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress began to collect, preserve, and provide access to traces of these vernacular cultural exchanges in the Web Cultures Web Archive (https://www.loc.gov/collections/web-cultures-web-archive/about-this-collection/).

In this paper, curators and stewards growing the archives provide a conceptual context for folklife web archiving and then describe three scenarios for how researchers exploring digital culture could work with the archive to answer questions about vernacular culture.

The Library of Congress has been archiving born-digital web content since 2000. Thousands of sites have been preserved in a variety of event and thematic web archives on topics ranging from the United States National Elections, the Iraq War, Webcomics, and the events of September 11. At the same time, the Library is increasing its capacity to provide tools, infrastructure, and technical details to enable computational use of its vast digital holdings. Raising awareness of these digital collections among internet researchers and understanding their specific collections and access needs are critical to the growth and success of these efforts.

Thursday October 11, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Drummond East