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Preserving Web 2.0 Resources


We have become increasingly familiar with the term Web 2.0, referring in a very general way to the recent explosion of highly interactive and personalised Web services and applications. Collaboration and social networking are a key feature, for example through contributing comments or sharing write access and collaborating. Many of these applications have now crossed the threshold between private, personal use and applications used at work.

Web 2.0 Applications

In a briefing paper for JISC, Mark van Harmelen defined seven types of Web 2.0 applications [1]: blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, media sharing services, social networking systems, collaborative editing tools and syndication and notification technologies.

Some of these applications and services listed above are still at an 'experimental' stage and (at time of writing) being used in organisations primarily by early adopters of new technologies. But it is possible to discern the same underlying issues with all these applications, regardless of the software or its outputs.

Web 2.0 Issues

Preservation of Web 2.0 resources presents a number of different challenges to preservation of standard Web resources. These include:

  • Use of third party services: data may be held on a provider's server.
  • More complex ownership, IPR and authentication issues.
  • Data held may be personal and difficult to extract.
  • Emphasis on collaboration and communication rather than access to resources.
  • Richer diversity of services.
  • Is the data worth preserving at all?

Ownership and Responsibility

Quite often these applications rely on the individual to create and manage their own resources. A likely scenario is that the user creates and manages his or her own external accounts in Flickr, Slideshare or; but they are not organisational accounts. By contrast, one would expect blogs and wikis hosted by the organisation to offer more commitment to maintenance, in line with existing policies on rights, retention and reuse, as expressed in IT and information policy, conditions of employment, etc.

Third-party sites such as Slideshare or YouTube are excellent for dissemination, but they cannot be relied on to preserve your materials permanently. If you have created a resource - slideshow, moving image, audio, whatever it be - that requires retention or preservation, then someone needs to make arrangements for the 'master copy'. Ideally, you want to bring these arrangements in line with the larger Web archiving programme. However, if there is a need for short-term action, and the amount of resources involved are (though important) relatively small, then remedial action for master copies may be appropriate. Some possible remedial actions are:

  • Store it in the Electronic Document Records Management System
  • Store it on the Institution Web site
  • Store it in the Institutional Repository
  • Store it on a local networked drive

In the case of blogs, wikis and collaborative tools, content is created directly in them, and access is normally dependent on the availability of the host and the continued functioning of the software. Users of such tools should be encouraged and assisted to ensure significant outputs of online collaborative work are exported and managed locally.


It is unclear at this stage if Web 2.0 offers a new set of challenges or an enhancement of existing ones. The really challenging problems are organisational e.g. how can an organisation identify "its content" on something like Slideshare? Who ultimately "owns" content? How (and should) things be "unpublished"? A number of case studies of preservation of Web 2.0 resources are available from the JISC PoWR Web site [2].


  1. An Introduction to Web 2.0, Cultural Heritage briefing paper no. 1, UKOLN, <>
  2. JISC PoWR Web 2.0, JISC PoWR Blog, <>
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