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Librarians: Argos site is top priority to be preserved for future generations

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Argos and a page discussing posh camping have been placed on a list of 100 websites the British Library regards as crucial reading for future generations who want to understand life in 2013.

To mark the beginning of an ambitious attempt to archive the entire British internet, librarians from across Britain put their heads together to select the most seminal websites of the twenty-teens.

Experts from the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Dublin chose high-street stores, hyper-hyper-hyper local blogs and niche interest webpages as must-reads for tomorrow's children.

They recommended the coming generations might like to peruse the Argos website, look at the thrilling story of a farflung bus shelter or brave the angry horde of mothers who call Mumsnet their online home.

This list of 100 sites is just the tip of an massive online iceberg. The librarties are hoping to store all websites ending with .uk or which are created and published in the UK.

"Ten years ago, there was a very real danger of a black hole opening up and swallowing our digital heritage, with millions of web pages, e-publications and other non-print items falling through the cracks of a system that was devised primarily to capture ink and paper,” said Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library.

We looked at the websites which will be "essential reading for future generations researching our life and times in 2013".

Describing Argos, which has been badly battered by Amazon, the experts said: "This website unites Argos’ high street catalogue with online shopping. It gives an insight into the buying habits of people in the UK ranging from DIY tools to jewellery."

One particularly important website tells the story of a bus shelter in Unst, Shetland. It has become a tourist attraction, apparently, and was awarded the prestigious title of Best Bus Shelter in Britain by Buses Monthly Magazine as well as Yahoo's Community Website of the Year back in 2003. The website "tells the story of the Bus Shelter and how it became what it is today".

Proving that the librarians understand irony, they have also listed a website about the Luddites, which they claim will also help future people understand Britain during the digital dawn.

The ShitLondon community is on the list, perhaps chosen by the angry staff of provincial libraries. It collects together images that show London's nasty side. In a similar vein is Chavtowns, which uses the language of snobbery to discuss the very worst towns in Britain. Today's highlighted area is Warrington.

Transport for London has been recommended for future researchers who want to know why you were late for work today, while a page for young Welsh farmers will provide "a good illustration of agricultural life in the 21st century".

The other sites include a community of people who still play Dreamcasts, which are consoles long-ago mothballed by Sega, and advocates of glamping, or posh camping for people who don't like camping.

Other more predictable choices include the BBC, Facebook, the NHS and the Old Bailey online.

A British Library employee, who unequivocally did not want to be named, said: "We've chosen sites that a bit off the beaten track."

Perhaps you know of a few websites that might illuminate future generations? Why not tweet your suggestions using the hashtag #digitaluniverse and tell the librarians what's what in your world? ®

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