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Web 25

Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web


Edited By Niels Brügger

Web 25: Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Web. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the Web has played an important role in the development of the Internet as well as in the development of most societies at large, from its early grey and blue webpages introducing the hyperlink for a wider public, to today’s multifacted uses of the Web as an integrated part of our daily lives.

This is the first book to look back at 25 years of Web evolution, and it tells some of the histories about how the Web was born and has developed. It takes the reader on an exciting time travel journey to learn more about the prehistory of the hyperlink, the birth of the Web, the spread of the early Web, and the Web’s introduction to the general public in mainstream media. Furthermore, case studies of blogs, literature, and traditional media going online are presented alongside methodological reflections on how the past Web can be studied, as well as accounts of how one of the most important source types of our time is provided, namely the archived Web.

Web 25: Histories from the First 25 Years of the World Wide Web is a must-read
for anyone interested in how our online present has been shaped by the past.

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Chapter Ten: The changing digital faces of science museums: A diachronic analysis of museum websites (Anwesha Chakraborty / Federico Nanni)


chapter ten

The changing digital faces of science museums

A diachronic analysis of museum websites

Anwesha Chakraborty and Federico Nanni


In recent years, web history (Brügger, 2010) has started to receive substantial attention in internet studies and digital humanities, and its theories and methods have been applied to political science research (e.g. Ben-David, 2015; Foot, Schneider, Dougherty, Xenos, & Larsen, 2003) as well as cultural and social history (e.g. Milligan, 2015). Inspired by this academic development, this chapter is intended to be a starting point to discuss how prominent scientific institutions develop their websites over a period of time to communicate better with their visitors. More specifically, this work presents the formulation of a methodology for using websites as primary sources to trace and examine activities of scientific institutions through the years. This is achieved in three steps: first, we diachronically analyse snapshots of pages of select museum websites from the Internet Archive, the most important and comprehensive web archive (Howell, 2006).1 Then, we combine this analysis with interviews of the current website managers and with resources available on the live web.

The choice to study museums was prompted by the fact that these institutions are perceived by the civil society as authoritative custodians of artifacts, culture and heritage. This is true for science and technology museums as well, which have the additional task of communicating specialised (and often less understood) branches of knowledge. In...

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