Emily Maemura is a PhD Candidate in her fourth year of study at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information (iSchool). Her research focus is on web archiving, studying the practices of collecting and preserving what is currently on the web for future use by researchers in the social sciences and humanities. She is interested in approaches and methods for research with web archives data and research collections, and in capturing diverse perspectives of the internet as an object and/or site of study.

Research Focus

The world wide web is a dynamic and unprecedented information environment, encompassing a wide range of digital material. Ongoing access to this information is at risk as networked resources are changed or removed unpredictably from the web over time. Web archiving has therefore become an essential activity for organizations committed to collecting and preserving digital cultural heritage. While institutions like the Internet Archive and other founding members of the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) have been collecting web materials for over two decades, recently the number of web archiving initiatives in libraries, archives, and research institutions has increased. Further, with greater interest in web archives across a range of social science and humanities disciplines, attention is turning toward understanding what is or is not included in these collections and how they are used as evidence. While previous work has tested the coverage of web archives against materials from the live web, these quantitative approaches do not address why, when, or how archival absences occur (e.g. Ainsworth et al., 2011). A key barrier to the use of web archives for research purposes is understanding the various social and technical factors influencing what is captured and preserved for the future.

My doctoral research uses a multiple case study to identify the curatorial choices involved in web archiving practice in different contexts, how these choices are shaped by the design of sociotechnical systems and infrastructures, and how they influence subsequent use and interpretation by researchers working with archived web materials. Through this work, I ask: how can a better understanding of these curatorial choices enable web archives to become more transparent? How can this inform the design of web archives research infrastructures that document and communicate a collection’s features and limitations to users?

Previous work

As a Research Assistant with the Digital Curation Institute I’ve worked on the BenchmarkDP project exploring Capability Maturity Models for organizational assessment in digital preservation. See the DCI website for publications from the project.

Prior to my doctoral work, I completed my Masters of Information at the University of Toronto, with a focus in Information Systems & Design and the Collaborative Program in Knowledge Media DesignMy background in architecture and construction management contributed to my interest in how the design of systems and infrastructure impact user experience. It also gave me to opportunity to work with a number of architecture and design firms in Toronto, Vancouver, and Los Angeles, and to study architecture in Rome.

What else? I’m obsessed with the internet. I love diagrams. I love speculative fiction. I also love making things. I’ve been using a sewing machine since I was six years old. I’ve worked with miniatures, model-making, Japanese bookbinding and box-making, knitting, crochet, metal and glass jewellery and made my own board games.

Last updated November 3, 2017