With a view to promoting the establishing of a collaborative European research infrastructure for the study of archived web materials the RESAW community — A Research Infrastructure for the Study of Archived Web Materials — was established in late 2012 as a coordinated, self-organising, and self-financing network. In the Spring of 2016 the RESAW community served as the basis for the preparation of an application to EU’s Horizon 2020 funding scheme. The community activities are coordinated by Niels Brügger (Aarhus University, NetLab & the Centre for Internet Studies), but they rely on a high degree of self-organising and self-financing; in the main activities are based on the initiative of the participants, but some general activities (website, etc.) is taken care of by the coordinator.
Abstract from full proposal, submitted to Horizon 2020, March 2017: Over the last two decades the Web has become an integral part of European society, culture, business, and politics. But Web content disappears rapidly—the average lifetime of a webpage is two months. To provide future access to this increasingly important digital cultural heritage, key research infrastructures in the form of national Web archives have been established in a number of European countries. A Web archive is a collection of Web material that was previously available online. But for the researcher who wants to study values and lifestyles, views and beliefs, identities and cultures across European borders, these national Web archives become an obstacle since they delimit the borderless flow of information on the internet with national barriers. High-quality research across borders requires free and efficient cross-border researcher access to national Web archives. To meet this need RESAW will establish and operate a collaborative world-class trans- national European research infrastructure that enables cross-border studies of the archived Web by integrating and opening up existing Web archives. RESAW mobilises a comprehensive consortium of partners, including the national Web archives of Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK, and the US-based Internet Archive, as well as six research institutions and one specialist consultancy company from six different Member States. RESAW is in line with the EU’s ambitions expressed in The Digital Agenda for Europe, and will provide services that do not exist today which will put Europe at the forefront in this field. By facilitating easy access to large amounts of cultural heritage Big Data, as well as searching, selecting and analysis of the material itself, RESAW will make the research process more efficient and enhance the European Research Area. It is thus expected to have a transformative impact on a wide range of researchers who want to use material from national Web archives other than their own.