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How to Save the Internet

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There’s no Command+S shortcut for ethically preserving the web

Social media has changed “the future of history.” Our lives and the historical events of our time are recorded differently now, with tweets and Instagram posts replacing letters and film rolls as primary sources for future generations to study. In the December issue of Harper’s Magazine, the writer and journalist Nora Caplan-Bricker delves into the world of internet archiving to explore how traditional methods of preservation are being adapted to accommodate our digital footprints. “Preservation Acts” chronicles the changes in attitudes toward archiving the internet over the past decade, as archivists shift from attempts at wholesale preservation to selective processes that take into account ethical considerations surrounding our rights and privacy online.

In this week’s podcast, Caplan-Bricker joins web editor Violet Lucca to discuss the fast-moving field of digital preservation; contextualizing and prioritizing tweets in the age of Russian bots; preserving discourse from the darker corners of the internet; and the challenges of ethical archiving in a digital age.

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