Decommissioning Making Publics

Over the past month or so I've had to prepare for the coming expiration of the domain. Though the project officially concluded in 2010, a remainder of funds was allocated to re-imagine its website, and see whether discussions could continue. In short, though we received some traffic initially, and some requests for new user accounts over the years, the new site did not take of on its own. Nevertheless the work done on it acted as a good leaping point for the new NanoHistory site which launched this last fall.

When I arrived at McGill to take up my position as a postdoc and webmaster for MaPs, I made it a priority to archive and preserve the work of my predecessor, Jen Drouin, as well as various iterations of the site over the years. As an historian digital preservation was essential to showcasing the developing work of the project, and also as a web developer I wanted a way to document the changes I was making. And Jen needed proof her work for her own career.

Before the domain registration expired on June 10, I set up Heritrix, the state of the art web crawling web-archive building tool that powers the Internet Archive's Way Back Machine. It took some doing on a windows 10 machine (I had to use the 3.3 build - there's a problem with java and earlier versions). I got it set up, and crawled six times, each time using a different user profile level so we'd have the slightly different versions in the new WARC files Heritrix generates.

The results are now available, along with a mysql dump, and the entire php pages and files, at Hopefully the McGill library will be able to take over supervision of the archived files at a later date. But for now, the websites are preserved in standards that are accessible for researchers interested in academic research environments in the mid to late 2000s.