Legacy interfaces and services offered online by major companies

   Practically Extinct small

Online services with unique interfaces that change regularly and through those changes provide a different experience AND different content to their users.

Group: Social Media

Trend: New Entry

Unanimous Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within 12 months, detailed assessment is now a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.

Examples

Interfaces to Gmail, Facebook, Google Docs, Hotmail, Ask Jeeves, Tweetdeck, TurboTax, MySpace, Quicken Online, and many others

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Robust and extensive web archives with strong documentation of search algorithms, ranking and personalization of interfaces.

2019 Review

This is a new entry received through the open submission process and assessed by the Jury prior to publication. There are several other entries around social media and the web which pertain to content: this entry highlights the configuration of interfaces and therefore the ever-changing arrangement and presentation of content.  Personalization means that the same query can produce quite different results to different users at the same time; and the application of machine learning to behavioural surplus means the same may obtain different results at different points in time.  That is over and above the rapid churn in the appearance of web interfaces.  There is little appreciation of the implications for the use of online services, and the potential for manipulations that arise. Moreover, the digital preservation community, concerned historically with data rather than interface, has only rudimentary tools to address this challenge.

Additional Jury Comments

Some of the content/iterations of these likely preserved to some extent within existing web archives, but not as targeted collection efforts. As we've seen with myspace and other platforms where the platform producers decide to remove content or shut down rather quickly, it can be too late if this content hasn't been preserved already.

Why can we see how the online services behaved 5 years ago? Moreover, why can't we see the way they manipulated data to present content differently to how they now do such that the content we can access via them is different?

How far do we take this? The returns are likely to diminish. Who is taking responsibility to preserve? What are the platform creators doing to preserve this cultural history?

Some of this information is almost certainly lost already (some through deliberate erasure).

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Non-standard public records

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Records created in the course of public administration and subject to public records legislation but created on unofficial channels and platforms and therefore subject to unlawful destruction whether by accident or design.

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend: New Entry

Unanimous Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Immediate action necessary.  Where detected they should be stabilised and reported as a matter of urgency

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.

Examples

Content and messages from cloud based instant messaging services (such as WhatsApp Telegram or Snapchat) that pertains to public administration and is subject to public records legislation but concealed from or inaccessible to archival agencies. 

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Archival pathway; public officials briefed on the nature of public records and the penalties for illegal disposal; boundary between public and private correspondence; cloud services administered transparently; export functions.

2019 Review

This is a subset of an entry in the 2018 BitList for ‘Digital Legal Records and Evidence’ which the Jury has decided to separate into four different entries in order to draw attention to the different challenges and priorities that arise.  The Jury has subsequently given this entry the strongest indication of risk available.  This group includes those records which may contain politically damaging or uncomfortable realities and thus be at risk of deletion; and may be concealed from archival agencies whether by accident or design.  The judges note that the destruction of certain classes of public records is unlawful, whether or not it is deliberate.

Additional Jury Comments

This is a "small effort to fix" in terms of the technology to export data. But loss seems likely unless there is stronger monitoring and enforcement of the policy around this.

Agencies responsible for public record will not be able to completely control their public servants use of unofficial channels (but could tighten) so need methods to obtain from unofficial channels. Very important for public accountability and transparency of the state.

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Older Open Source Intelligence Sources

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Older open source social media and web content which supports crowd-sourced investigation and fact-checking to verify or refute claims of state agencies and rebel groups in the context of historic political or military conflict.

Group: Digital Legal Records

Trend: new Entry

Unanimous Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Immediate action necessary.  Where detected they should be stabilised and reported as a matter of urgency

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.

Examples

Social media sources relating to the Arab spring

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Offline backup documented and available for recovery;

2019 Review

This is a new entry received through open submission in 2019 and subsequently split into three elements by the Jury, relating to current, recent and historic sources.  This entry relates in particular to materials published at the time of the ‘Arab’ spring.  Social media companies had initially taken little or no action with respect to social media content in conflict zones, taking the view either that they were mere technical platforms and therefore not responsible for editorial; or that the platforms were being used largely for a social good, loosening the control of the media from oppressive regimes.  However, as the Arab Spring progressed, the companies came under significant pressure to monitor content with more care, in part because terrorist groups had begun using the social media platforms for propaganda purposes.  The social media companies responded by implementing algorithms that removed or deleted content.  This had the unintended consequence of deleting or supressing content that was being used in open source investigation for journalistic or judicial purposes and may have resulted in refutation or prosecution. 

The Jury recognizes the duty of care that social media companies have towards their users and is in no sense seeking to have that material re-published on the open web. But it notes the unintended consequence for journalists and investigatory authorities from the rush to deletion.   This entry further underlines the relative fragility of all social media content.

Additional Jury Comments

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Pre-WWW Videotex Data Services and Bulletin Board Services

   Practically Extinct small

Pre WWW telephone and television information services that allowed a degree of user interaction and data retrieval with modem-based two way communication.

Group: Sound & Vision

Trend: No Change

Unanimous Decision

Added to List: 2017

Last update: 2019

Previous category: Practically Extinct

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within 12 months, detailed assessment is now a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.

Examples

Prestel, Minitel, VidiTel and Videotex NL, Alex, BelTel, FidoNet

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Offline backup documented and available for recovery;

2019 Review

This entry was first published in 2017 and there has been no evidence to document any change in the initial classification that such data was practically extinct.  There may be examples residing in offline backups of services taken at the time, but these are likely to have deteriorated rapidly.  Therefore the Jury calls on anyone with such collections to act quickly to stabilise and recover content.

Additional Jury Comments

Although there is no structured collection of this material many individuals have archives and a campaign of the nature of 'Missing believed Wiped' might be effective

Almost impossible to get this data back (we can hope for some disks to show up one day that have traces on them). From a cultural studies point of view, it's a huge loss.

Appeal to the crowd?

This is also something that links to community archives and community heritage - early online forums were a place of community development and community creation.

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Pre-WWW ViewData and TeleText Services where no archival agency has captured and retained the signal

   Practically Extinct small

Pre-WWW television information services broadcast within the TV signal that allowed a degree of search and retrieval of up-to-date information, based on TeleText or ViewData technologies and variants.

Group: Sound & Vision

Trend: no change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

Last update: 2019

Previous category: Practically Extinct

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within 12 months

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the development of new preservation tools or techniques.

Examples

AerTel; Electra; MetroText; Antiope-based systems; Ceefax; TeleText

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Captured within on-air broadcast recordings; active research and recovery programme

2019 Review

A number of important developments have been reported since this entry was made in 2017 which give hope that collections can be recovered and re-used under certain circumstances.  Live-capture of broadcast output at the BBC and British Film Institute embed the signals that can be assembled to access the teletext content.  Methods to recover such signals have been demonstrated meaning that, where the appropriate broadcast archive exists the signal can be recovered.  It is not yet fully clear how such a signal could be made searchable or made available at scale. Nonetheless research is progressing on how this may be made possible.  Consequently, this entry is now progressing towards improvement, provided the different threads of active research can be brought together in a timely manner.

Additional Jury Comments

From a cultural studies point of view, it's a huge loss: an important source of information about news and social mores of the time.

There is progress to report on this entry, meaning that elements of the problem have been resolved?

Major national agencies have collections of off-air recorded television on videotape carriers, which are likely to contain the teletext data. Few if any have undertaken substantial extraction and preservation of the teletext in its own right, although many have digitised videotape carriers to digital file formats which are now under preservation. An active teletext enthusiast community has developed and has created programmatic solutions to the extraction of the teletext from the video files, and emulation of teletext display. A next step could be a collaboration between the official agencies and the enthusiast community to develop a systematic programme to extract teletext from off-air recordings for both preservation and access via emulation.

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Unpublished research data

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Data sets produced in the course of research but never shared or made available outside of the initial research team

Group: Research Outputs

Trend: New Entry

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within 12 months, detailed assessment is now a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.

Examples

Unpublished research data

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Replication and documentation; data management plan; preservation pathway agreed

2019 Review

This is a subset of the ‘Unpublished Research Outputs’ reported in 2018, and which has since been into 4 entries to draw attention to the different preservation requirements and concerns that arise.  This entry relates specifically to research data which has not been shared or published by any means and is thus in contravention of the ‘FAIR’ principles which require data to be Findable Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.  Without appropriate planning, research data can have a high barrier to re-use, especially where documentation is lacking.  There have been numerous attempts over the years to address the risk of data loss, and it is the Jury’s hope that this is a now a small group. The Jury takes the view that documentation and re-use go hand in hand, and that researchers should be under no illusions that data not documented or shared faces material and immediate risks of extinction.

Additional Jury Comments

A worry if this includes data that is unfavourable and has intentionally not been published.

This is a wide field so the scale and impact is heard to describe; but the risk is higher than with papers due to potential file format complexity.

Advocacy and research is needed to establish the scale of the problem, as well as education regarding open science and preservation. Simplified tools and workflows to move data from CRIS to Repository to Preservation.

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