This article that I wrote with David Zeitlyn and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger based on the digital ethnographic research I did for the Oxford Internet Institute/Oxford Anthropology in 2014/15 came out in May 2015. I've been traveling and working in Europe this summer and haven't had time to post it until now. Read it online (for free!) at First Monday: Learning from Failure: The case of the disappearing web site.
Abstract: This paper presents the findings of the Gone Dark Project, a joint study between the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. The project has sought to give substance to frequent reports of Web sites “disappearing” (URLs that generate “404 not found” errors) by tracking and investigating cases of excellent and important Web sites which are no longer accessible online. We first address the rationale and research methods for the project before focusing on several key case studies illustrating some important challenges in Web preservation. Followed by a brief overview of the strengths and weaknesses of current Web archiving practice, the lessons learned from these case studies will inform practical recommendations that might be considered in order to improve the preservation of online content within and beyond existing approaches to Web preservation and archiving.
There's a PDF download available on my Academia page. Feel free to follow.
Are any other anthropologists working on digital preservation? Let me know in the comments.