HNiMN received several awards including the IDFA DocLab Special Jury Award for Creative Technology in 2022. Together with them, we explore the preservation of this interactive documentary in order to ensure that it will be secured as part of our digital cultural heritage. In this blog we will give insight into the first steps we took in the archiving process.
HNiMN presents a combination of cutting-edge immersive media format, Dutch history, heritage and documentary storytelling. This online documentary starts from a familial story that happened during World War II and expands to cover topics that makes its audience reconnect with this part of Dutch history.
As expected, we encountered several roadblocks in the process of archiving HNiMN. We approached these as opportunities to explore possible solutions as well as ways to work around the limitations of our archive’s infrastructure.
Limits of the archive
Sound & Vision is an audiovisual archive, intended for television and radio, which made it quite challenging to preserve born digital material that is made for a social media platform. The solution is to work pragmatically: work with the systems that we have, preserving the videos, audio and images, and in this case screen recordings. We will search for partners or softwares that can help us with preserving immersive media in its original form.
We work with Archive-IT, an external partner for web archiving, which allows us to crawl websites to preserve them in such a way that they remain accessible, even after the original website has become inaccessible. While this works for most websites in our collection, it does not (yet) work for most social media, including Instagram. The main barrier is caused by the login requirement. As the tool does not allow us to login, we cannot crawl Instagram in a way that makes preservation and access possible. For this reason we crawled a representation of HNiMN on Gramhir.com. This website did not require login, so all of the posts could be viewed. The profile itself is shown in a different context and thus looks different than the original. At the time of writing this blog, the Gramhir page is no longer in use in the way it was when we used it for archiving purposes. This signals an important problem; that software is unreliable and tools become obsolete very quickly.
In order to capture the complete page and archive it, we have decided to complement the crawl with screen recordings. This was successful in preserving the look and feel of the Instagram page. However, it is labor intensive and it is not the page itself that is preserved but rather a form of documentation.