We kicked off Week 1 of our data collection for the “Preserving Flash Works” project with a tutorial on Rhizome.org’s Webrecorder by Dragan Espenshied, Lyndsey Moulds, and Anna Perricci. For those of you who do not know, Webrecorder is a tool that records a website in a way that allows for its full interactivity and performability. Essentially, it captures the traffic for one complete work, offering a selection of browsers with which to access works once they are recorded. It was funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and developed by Ilya Kreymer for Rhizome’s digital preservation program led by Dragan. Because it has been created to record dynamic web content by emulating a browser and is a “record of web resources” (Rhizome.org), it appears to be an effective tool for preserving Flash works. ELL received a seed grant that provides us with the opportunity to test out that hypothesis and collect data we need during the month of May so that we can write a larger grant to underwrite the preservation of all Flash works in the ELO Repository’s collections of web journals, anthologies, and showcases.

To get up and running to test Flash works with the Webrecorder, we installed WARCIT on our computers. This is a tool that allows us to convert web documents produced as HTML, web assets and other data files into an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard web archive (WARC, Web ARCive) files and host these files on our local computer. The video embedded in this post produced by Moneca Roath shows the ELL Team learning how to set up and use WARCIT.

Already we have inventoried all seven journals––frAme, Beehive, Word Circuits, Riding the Meridian, Poems That Go, Cauldron & Net, and The Iowa Review Web––and the three anthologies ––Electronic Literature Collections 1, 2, and 3. On Monday, we will complete the list by adding Flash works from Turbulence.org and The Museum of the Essential and Beyond That. As of today, however, we have logged 193 Flash works. I suspect the final number will be upwards of 350.

If you think about it, that is a lot of electronic literature to lose if we are not able to undertake this preservation project. They signify a cultural moment when artists were experimenting with multimedia for telling stories and creating poetry. 

We plan to document our data collection via video, as we have done here, for our own use but also to share with others so that they can see the kind of work it took to prepare for the grant.