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Digital lifestyles

We create digital content in every aspect of our lives. Where once our precious documents were letters, diaries and photo albums, today they may be emails, blogs and Instagram accounts. How would we feel if we lost those electronic records, and what impact would that have on our personal and collective history?

See Dr Rebecca Huntley talk about the need to become aware of the digital content we create every day, and why we need to get serious about preserving our own digital lives:

The Library hosted a discussion of Dr Huntley's video led by geographer and data enthusiast Dr Chris McDowall. Watch it now!

Robin weaves korowai

The Internet has revolutionised and democratised the publishing of information in the modern electronic age, bringing a dramatic change in how information, culture and history is created, recorded and maintained. Much of the information published on the internet today is unique and therefore historically valuable as they will be primary resources for tomorrow’s researchers.

The National Library of New Zealand started collecting copies of websites in 1999 and an active programme of selective web archiving began in 2005. The web archive collection includes a comprehensive collection of government websites, and other websites selected on a wide range of subject areas covering the arts, politics, Māori, sciences and sport in order to broadly reflect our social, cultural, political and economic activities and history.

Currently there are approximately 6500 unique web titles in the Library’s Web Archive collection. Many of these titles are collected regularly to capture new content, which means around 26,500 items have been archived to date (approximately 12 terabytes of data). Since 2008 there have been five whole of domain crawls over the .nz web comprising 70TB of data.

Craft arts has been one of the earliest areas of focus in the Library’s ongoing selective web archiving activity, being identified as an emerging part of New Zealand’s social history which did not yet have a high collecting profile within the Library. The selection aim was, and continues to be, to capture content on New Zealand crafts, organisations and services in the craft arts. We have also collected a representation of the online creative endeavours of New Zealand’s diverse handicraft and applied arts artists, many of whom also reflect a unique Māori or Pacific influence or heritage in their working with textiles and fibres, glass, ceramics and other media.

Screenshot of the Robin weaves korowai site, showing the start of a blog post and a photo of a woman in a traditional cloak at the Hākui exhibition.
Robin weaves korowai. Record page

A good example of this is Robin Hill’s blog Robin Weaves Korowai (Record page) which the Library has been archiving since 2013. The author has learnt the uniquely New Zealand art of weaving the korowai, or feather cloak, and since 2011 she has been regularly documenting her weaving projects online, plus sharing information and ideas to a wider audience beyond that of her own artistic community.

The Library’s Web Archive contains examples of many types of websites ranging from the official to the obscure, the academic to the arcane. Yet this unassuming blog exemplifies how expressions of how we live, play and learn – or what is important to us – is now being communicated in many different ways. So the importance of the Library’s web archiving in helping to preserve the individual and community digital memory in our society cannot be understated. We may not ourselves be a crafter but we can still appreciate the skill involved in weaving a beautiful korowai, and having a website like this preserved means that future generations will be able to do so too.

What do you want to keep forever?

What have you been making that you want to keep safe? Digital publications should be sent to the Library's Legal Deposit team, and the Turnbull would love to see anything you'd like to donate.

Submit your digital publications under Legal Deposit | Donate your digital items to the Turnbull

Born digital 2016: Collecting for the future.