100 websites for archiving

The Scottish websites that could make history

A list of prominent Scottish websites is announced today that could be used by historians of the future to find out how we lived in the early years of the 21st century.

They are part of a longer list of 100 websites compiled by the UK's leading libraries that are seen as giving a fascinating insight into life in Britain today. The initiative comes as the libraries are about to be given the power to archive the UK web domain for the first time.

From 6 April the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, will start collecting and storing websites in the same way that printed material has been collected for centuries.

To celebrate the landmark legislation, curators and other experts from all the participating libraries were asked to choose the 100 websites that they judge will be essential reading for future generations researching life and culture in the UK in 2013.

In Scotland the selection ranges from the website of a Shetland bus shelter to a blog on school meals and the worst poetry ever written.

As well as the online giants like Facebook and eBay, the legal deposit libraries will be able to capture those more ephemeral websites, including blogs, which would otherwise risk disappearing into a digital black hole as formats change and sites are taken down.

This first large-scale capture of the UK web domain will provide researchers in 100, 200 or even 1,000 years' time with a rich resource for researching what was important to us, what we cared about, and who we were in 2013.

The full list of websites can be viewed on www.bl.uk/100websites and members of the public are being invited to nominate their own suggestions on Twitter using #digitaluniverse.

The Scottish sites on the list are:

  • Scotland.org — Everything from science to sport, Burns to bagpipes plus living and working in Scotland today — a window into life in Scotland
  • Blipfoto — A community site that began in Edinburgh with each member publishing one photo per day, demonstrating the extraordinary diversity of everyday life in the UK
  • Beano — One of Britain's best-loved comics and how it is adapting in the digital age
  • Neverseconds — Primary school pupil Martha Payne's blog on school meals. This gives a fascinating insight into children's views on food and the debates concerning school meals
  • Unst Bus Shelter — Tells the history of a humble bus shelter on a remote Scottish island and how it became a tourist attraction due to the power and reach of the internet
  • Scottish Farmers' Markets — Gives an insight into the alternative high street with growth of local markets selling produce direct from producers
  • An Comunn Gàidhealach (ACGMOD) — Shows that Gaelic culture is live and kicking in 2013 Scotland
  • McGonagall Online — A peculiarly British website dedicated to William Topaz McGonagall, who has been widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language
  • Daily Mash — Supreme British satire site providing scathing and hilarious commentary on current affairs since 2007, founded by Scottish journalists.

Scotland's National Librarian, Martyn Wade, said: 'The average life of a webpage is around six to 10 weeks. After that it — and the important information it can contain — can be lost forever. From, this weekend we will be able to start harvesting the entire UK web domain helping future generations to understand what we did and how we lived.'

The UK list includes familiar names such as Amazon, eBay, the BBC, TripAdvisor, Gumtree, Mumsnet and retailers Next and Argos. See the full list of 100 websites on the British Library website.


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2 April 2013

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