2017-10-16: Visualizing Webpage Changes Over Time - new NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant

In August, we were excited to be awarded an 18-month Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Our project, "Visualizing Webpage Changes Over Time", was one of 31 awards made through this joint NEH/IMLS program (award announcement).
Michele C. Weigle and Michael L. Nelson - ODU
Deborah Kempe - Frick Art Reference Library and New York Art Resources Consortium
Pamela Graham and Alex Thurman - Columbia University Libraries
Oct 2017 – Mar 2019, $75,000
As web archives grow in importance and size, techniques for understanding how a web page changes through time need to adapt from an assumption of scarcity (just a few copies of a page, no more than a few weeks or months apart) to one of abundance (tens of thousands of copies of a page, spanning as much as 20 years). This project, a joint effort among ODU, the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC), and Columbia University Libraries (CUL), will research and develop tools for efficient visualization of and interaction with archived web pages. This work will be informed by and in support of CUL’s and NYARC’s existing web archiving activities.

This project is an extension of AlSum and Nelson's Thumbnail Summarization Techniques for Web Archives, published in ECIR 2014 (presentation slides), and our previous work, funded by an incentive grant from Columbia University Libraries and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For this project, we will develop
  1. a tool for visualizing web page changes in arbitrary web archives
  2. a plug-in for the popular Wayback Machine web archiving system
  3. scripts for easy embedding of the visualizations in live web pages, providing tighter integration of the archived web and live web. 
The visualizations we will develop fall into three main categories:
  • grid view - This view would show the entire thumbnail summary in a grid.
  • interactive timeline view - This view would place the thumbnail summary on an interactive timeline. Depending upon the size of the TimeMap, other mementos (those not selected as part of the summary) may be indicated on the timeline as well.
  • single thumbnail view - The area of this view would be a single thumbnail. In addition to the standard screenshot, we will also develop visualizations that employ a Twitter-style card. We propose to develop several instances of this view:
    • image slider - This view would be similar to iPhoto image previews, where the thumbnail image changes as the user moves their mouse across the image
    • animated GIF - This view would automatically cycle through the selected thumbnails, similar to our “What Did It Look Like?” service.
    • video - This view would be a video of the thumbnails. We would use existing services, such as YouTube or Instagram, which allow annotation with links to mementos and direct access to particular thumbnails. For instance, YouTube provides access to particular points in a video through the #t={mm}m{ss}s URL parameter (e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CahU8bSgyA#t=0m22s).
We are grateful for the continued support of NEH and IMLS for our web archiving research and look forward to producing exciting tools and services for the community.

-Michele and Michael