Feeds

British Library wants taxpayer to gobble the web

Cost? We don't know

Build a business case: developing custom apps

British Library wants to archive the UK web, creating an invaluable national treasure trove of porn, celebrity trivia gossip and Daily Mail comments. But it admits it can't put a figure on the project - which looks like becoming a huge, open-ended commitment for the taxpayer.

Today the Library stepped up the pressure for the law to be changed, allowing copyright libraries to create copies of web material for research purposes of other copyright holders material. Five statutory libraries already have permission to make printed material available. Now the British Library says it wants the Web too.

"It's not a request for additional funding," a BL spokesperson said, but they couldn't say how much the creeping mission would end up costing us. At first, the BL won't archive every Tweet, but do an annual crawl, with some sites such as No 10 Downing Street archived more often. That would cost 220TB of data, it reckons about £4,000 in storage.

But that would barely make a dimple in a replica of UK web output, now that so many non-web chat areas have migrated to a home between angle brackets. The BL acknowledges there are eight million sites.

What, we wondered, was the point of archiving every single "Ashlee Cole iz a slag" typed into a browser?

"It may be that somebody wants to look back and research celebrity and this could be important to their research," we were told.

No doubt. But every Tweet and comment?

It was cheaper, the spokesman assured us, than employing a curator to choose between the best Ashley/Cheryl comments (for example).

Ah, right. So the mechanics dictate the curation policy.

But it was also fairer, he added, because the neutral, objective web bot couldn't be accused of bias. Even in momentous national conversations as the Cole divorce.

There are plenty of comments flying around this morning wondering why public money should be required to archive more than a handful of websites. Especially with Brewster Kahle's Archive.Org, which is privately funded.

At first the library told us the public was unaware that websites disappear without some part of the British state keeping a copy - an interesting claim. I've never met anyone who thinks all websites are preserved by some silent, omniscient backup programme.

Then the Library told us that the private sector couldn't be trusted to do the job, because future funding couldn't be assured. But with the British state in the red to the tune of £180bn this year, a defecit larger than Greece's in GDP terms (12.8 per cent), and frontline services such as nurses facing the chop, it's questionable whether anyone wants prefers to keep a copy of those Mail comments instead. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.