ALIA NGAC say goodbye to Storify: what happens now for #auslibchat?

auslibchat storify

The ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee are saying goodbye to Storify as it shuts down this year. In this post, we share our discussion on the closure, and ask you, the #auslibchat community, for your ideas on how best to share or archive #auslibchat in the future.

ALIA NGAC have been proud to initiate and present #auslibchat for the past two years. #auslibchat is an Australian and New Zealand centred professional discussion on Twitter for library and information services students and professionals. During this time, we’ve been using Storify to create and share records of #auslibchat. The primary purpose of this was to share a “wrap up” of each month’s chats for people who may have missed, or were unable to participate in, the chat. Now, we’re in a bit of a pickle as to the sustainability of these records and we’re asking you, our #auslibchat community, for guidance.

The challenge

Recently, Storify announced they would be shutting down, with existing accounts able to export their existing data until 16 May 2018.  This presents a challenge for #auslibchat, and any other Twitter chats or users who may have relied on Storify. Within our committee, we’ve been discussing these challenges. What do we do moving forward? What’s the purpose of creating records for #auslibchat? How do we manage the sustainability of #auslibchat?

The challenges of social media collection and archiving aren’t new. Researchers and activists have been active in this space for a long time. It’s thanks to activist movements like #BlackLivesMatter that we have archival projects such as Documenting the Now, who have created free tools for communities to archive social media data. Storify was an easy option, and its closure is forcing many of us to play catch up to this work, for the better.

Our response

We’ve seen you, the #auslibchat community, playing with the twarc tool created by DocNow. We’ve also heard your discussions about the problems of relying on free third party tools to collect and store Twitter posts. We agree that it is not viable to rely on the for-profit companies swooping in to fill the Storify gap (tools like Wakelet, Sutori, or even Twitter Moments). The difficulty of repopulating the JSON data collected by tools like twarc or TAGS into something that captures the flow of conversation is also a concern for us, as it is for you.

For us, the main concern is: what is the purpose of collecting #auslibchat data? Originally, archiving was never our intention. But now, having followed community discussion, we believe there is a need to consider research datasets and long-term preservation of #auslibchat records, as well as the need to continue “wrap ups” for non-participants.

Another concern is sustainability. Like most ALIA groups and committees, NGAC rely on free online tools and volunteer labour to do… pretty much everything (we aren’t funded, we aren’t ALIA employees, and we don’t represent the ALIA Board or staff). Successful social media archiving projects in the USA have involved institutional support and funding. Is this a viable option for #auslibchat? (See a footnote on this below.)

Over to you

For February’s #auslibchat, we’ve decided to address the need for a “wrap up” by creating a blog post with commentary on the conversation, and a selection of Tweets from the chat.  This will be hosted on our section of the ALIA Students and New Grads WordPress blog, which is another free third party website, but we hope this format will be simple for us to create and export. We encourage your feedback on this.  

We haven’t yet decided on a process for a more comprehensive “archive”, but that’s where we hope you come in. Is this something we could collaborate on as a community?

We’re asking you:

→ what are your needs in catching up with #auslibchat?

→ what do you think the purpose is in collecting #auslibchat data?

→ what ways should we use to achieve this purpose?

— ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee.

You can tweet the NGAC team at @aliangac, email aliangac@gmail.com, or leave a comment below. View our legacy Storify stories here (for now).

Resources

Tools

Twarc  (Ed Summer, Documenting the Now)

TAGS (Martin Hawksey)

Wakelet

Sutori

Twitter Moments

Storify closure

Storify, FAQ.

Harre, Kristen, and LaForme, Ren (2018, January 11). “Storify is shutting down. What should you do with your old stories?” Poynter. https://www.poynter.org/news/storify-shutting-down-what-should-you-do-your-old-stories

Milligan, Ian (2017, December 13). “The death of Storify, difficult alternatives, and the need to steward our data responsibly.” https://ianmilligan.ca/2017/12/13/the-death-of-storify-difficult-alternatives-and-the-need-to-steward-our-data-responsibly/

Social media archiving

Documenting the Now

NCSU Libraries, Social Media Archives Toolkit.

Bergis, Jules (2015, November 25). “Preserving social media records of activism.” On Archivy. https://medium.com/on-archivy/preserving-social-media-records-of-activism-26e0f1751869

Footnote

You may be wondering about recordkeeping requirements for ALIA groups and committees. The ALIA organisation does keep records, and submissions and reports we make to them are included in those. Otherwise, it’s up to individuals and groups to maintain their own records. This isn’t isolated to ALIA, and may be a reason why it’s so hard to track down historical records of Australian librarians and librarianship outside of institutional activities.

One of the reasons advocacy and activist groups are the focus of social media archiving is because social media has been so important to the work these groups do. 21st century librarianship similarly relies heavily on Twitter discussion and discourse. If we aren’t recording how librarians and GLAM workers use Twitter today, we may be leaving a huge gap in the historical record of our sector. An #auslibchat archive could have significance for LIS researchers and historians.

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