The graphical world wide web has now been in existence for over 20 years. Some of the earliest digital humanities sites are almost as old. While some of these sites are tied to people or organizations who update them in one form or another, many are not as funding ran out or creators moved on. We can all think of sites that we’ve run across that are, at a minimum, not up to today’s visual and user experience expectations, and at worst, are simple unusable by some or even all of today’s users.
Since we know that many old sites don’t fade away (though they might blink in and out), but linger on virtually forever (unless they were on GeoCities), what might we do with some of these abandoned or no-longer-funded projects going forward beyond just hoping that the Internet Archive takes some snapshots of them? How might we build on the work that has already been done, and do so in a way that is more than just an aesthetic facelift for these sites? Is it worth considering ways that we might make such previous work more accessible (both in terms of accommodations and in terms of something that more people would want to use) and usable?
I proposed a session at THATCamp AHA2012 on this topic where we began to list the issues involved. This time, however, I’m proposing a session where we come up with a design plan for a team that would work on rescuing (updating) older digital humanities sites, and a specific list of skill sets and tools that would be needed to do so. [In the latter category, I know questions of copyright/permissions are a substantial issue to resolve, as are those relating to the technical aspects of how the material was stored and presented, and how a site might be maintained going forward.]
Ideally, the session would bring together people interested in the project, would identify some potential test cases, and even discuss potential grants or other funding sources.
Anyone else interested in designing a digital SWAT team for rescuing old sites?