Gatherings of Pages: Saving Federal Scientific Data

Date: 25 July 2017
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Class of 1978 Pavilion, 6th Floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, University of Pennsylvania
Lecturer: Laurie Allen - Assistant Director for Digital Scholarship, University of Pennsylvania Libraries

What is a meaningful gathering of pages on the web? How does the technology used to create the page impact its meaning and preservability, and what assumptions do we make and take for granted in reading and using webpages? Beginning at the end of 2016, a team of librarians, faculty and students joined together with a broad public to build DataRefuge. This project aimed to secure safe copies of environmental and climate data from federal websites. DataRefuge, and the Data Rescue events it supported helped to expose how vulnerable all forms of data on the internet are. This talk will examine the ways that attempts to preserve data from the web calls attention to the technical and social histories of the internet, and the institutions that have been producing information over the past twenty years or so. Drawing on the work of preserving non-digital content, we will examine issues of trust, chain of custody and reliability on the web, as well as the ways that these ideas are understood by a broad public anxious to safeguard the data, meaning, and stories they care about.