Ukraine Internet Archives

The Race to Archive the Ukrainian Internet

A few weeks ago, we had an article on the Internet Archive. Now you can see it in action.

In times of war, preservation is more critical than ever—cultural artifacts, historical collections, and important records are often targeted and erased. Since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, the Internet Archive has been a crucial member of the effort to preserve Ukrainian websites, datasets, and digital resources before they’re lost forever.

We sometimes think of the internet as independent of the physical world, but data centers, routers, and cable networks are just as vulnerable to wartime destruction as a bridge or a road would be. Additionally, digital infrastructure can face other challenges ranging from electricity loss to advanced cyberattacks. Right now, more than a thousand volunteers from around the world are working to protect Ukrainian materials from these threats.

Archive Team

One major effort is being run by Archive Team, a loose collective of archivists, activists, and programmers who capture a variety of online materials and store them in the Internet Archive. Archive Team is running three major projects to capture the Ukrainian Internet. The first is an undirected crawl on URLs ending in “.ua”, which ranges across as much of the Ukrainian web as possible in the hopes of quickly gathering a wide variety of materials. This approach has the advantage of breadth, but sacrifices depth; complete copies may not be captured for every targeted site. The second project, however, selects a few specific sites to archive in their entirety–including government webpages, educational sites, and institutions that include digital archives and digital libraries. These sites are captured in-depth to ensure that as much is archived as possible. Finally, the third project is focused on journalism, relying on Ukrainian news aggregators to gather tens of millions of Ukrainian articles, creating a comprehensive, real-time record of how the invasion is unfolding.



Another effort to preserve crucial resources is Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online, or SUCHO. Coordinated online and through Slack, the volunteers are using a variety of web archiving tools, including the Wayback Machine, to capture web sites, open access journals, music, and other digital materials documenting Ukrainian cultural heritage. Many of these materials are now publicly available in the Internet Archive; if you’d like to learn more then check out this blog post.

Take Action

How can you help the effort to protect these vital resources? Right now SUCHO is seeking more volunteers to help gather URLs, perform archiving operations, and improve metadata. They’re especially looking for people who speak Russian/Ukrainian or have coding skills–you can learn more here!

Another way to help is simply by using the Wayback Machine to preserve websites you may be concerned about. With the Save Page Now feature, anyone can submit URLs to be archived; if you’re logged in with an Internet Archive account, you can also select “Outlinks” to capture any pages that link to the page you’ve selected. And if you have the Wayback Machine browser extension, you can take a snapshot without having to leave the page–here’s the add-on for Chrome, for Safari, for Firefox, and for Microsoft Edge. If you see something, save something!

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