Tag Archives: data mining

Internet Archive Partners with University of Edinburgh to Provide Historical Web Data Supporting Machine Translation

The Internet Archive will provide portions of its web archive to the University of Edinburgh to support the School of Informatics’ work building open data and tools for advancing machine translation, especially for low-resource languages. Machine translation is the process of automatically converting text in one language to another.

The ParaCrawl project is mining translated text from the web in 29 languages.  With over 1 million translated sentences available for several languages, ParaCrawl is often the largest open collection of translations for each language.   The project is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, University of Alicante, Prompsit, TAUS, and Omniscien with funding from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility.  Internet Archive data is vastly expanding the data mined by ParaCrawl and therefore the amount of translated sentences collected. Lead by Kenneth Heafield of the University of Edinburgh, the overall project will yield open corpora and open-source tools for machine translation as well as the processing pipeline.  

Archived web data from IA’s general web collections will be used in the project.  Because translations are particularly scarce for Icelandic, Croatian, Norwegian, and Irish, the IA will also use customized internal language classification tools to prioritize and extract data in these languages from archived websites in its collections.

The partnership expands on IA’s ongoing effort to provide computational research services to large-scale data mining projects focusing on open-source technical developments for furthering the public good and open access to information and data. Other recent collaborations include providing web data for assessing the state of local online news nationwide, analyzing historical corporate industry classifications, and mapping online social communities. As well, IA is expanding its work in making available custom extractions and datasets from its 20+ years of historical web data. For further information on IA’s web and data services, contact webservices at archive dot org.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards Grant to the Internet Archive for Long Tail Journal Preservation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a research and development grant to the Internet Archive to address the critical need to preserve the “long tail” of open access scholarly communications. The project, Ensuring the Persistent Access of Long Tail Open Access Journal Literature, builds on prototype work identifying at-risk content held in web archives by using data provided by identifier services and registries. Furthermore, the project expands on work acquiring missing open access articles via customized web harvesting, improving discovery and access to this materials from within extant web archives, and developing machine learning approaches, training sets, and cost models for advancing and scaling this project’s work.

The project will explore how adding automation to the already highly automated systems for archiving the web at scale can help address the need to preserve at-risk open access scholarly outputs. Instead of specialized curation and ingest systems, the project will work to identify the scholarly content already collected in general web collections, both those of the Internet Archive and collaborating partners, and implement automated systems to ensure at-risk scholarly outputs on the web are well-collected and are associated with the appropriate metadata. The proposal envisages two opposite but complementary approaches:

  • A top-down approach involves taking journal metadata and open data sets from identifier and registry sources such as ISSN, DOAJ, Unpaywall, CrossRef, and others and examining the content of large-scale web archives to ask “is this journal being collected and preserved and, if not, how can collection be improved?”
  • A bottom-up approach involves examining the content of general domain-scale and global-scale web archives to ask “is this content a journal and, if so, can it be associated with external identifier and metadata sources for enhanced discovery and access?”

The grant will fund work to use the output of these approaches to generate training sets and test them against smaller web collections in order to estimate how effective this approach would be at identifying the long-tail content, how expensive a full-scale effort would be, and what level of computing infrastructure is needed to perform such work. The project will also build a model for better understanding the costs for other web archiving institutions to do similar analysis upon their collection using the project’s algorithms and tools. Lastly, the project team, in the Web Archiving and Data Services group with Director Jefferson Bailey as Principal Investigator,  will undertake a planning process to determine resource requirements and work necessary to build a sustainable workflow to keep the results up-to-date incrementally as publication continues.

In combination, these approaches will both improve the current state of preservation for long-tail journal materials as well as develop models for how this work can be automated and applied to existing corpora at scale. Thanks to the Mellon Foundation for their support of this work and we look forward to sharing the project’s open-source tools and outcomes with a broad community of partners.

Hacking Web Archives

The awkward teenage years of the web archive are over. It is now 27 years since Tim Berners-Lee created the web and 20 years since we at Internet Archive set out to systematically archive web content. As the web gains evermore “historicity” (i.e., it’s old and getting older — just like you!), it is increasingly recognized as a valuable historical record of interest to researchers and others working to study it at scale.

Thus, it has been exciting to see — and for us to support and participate in — a number of recent efforts in the scholarly and library/archives communities to hold hackathons and datathons focused on getting web archives into the hands of research and users. The events have served to help build a collaborative framework to encourage more use, more exploration, more tools and services, and more hacking (and similar levels of the sometime-maligned-but-ever-valuable yacking) to support research use of web archives. Get the data to the people!

pngl3s_hackathon_postFirst, in May, in partnership with the Alexandria Project of L3S at University of Hannover in Germany, we helped sponsor “Exploring the Past of the Web: Alexandria & Archive-It Hackathonalongside the Web Science 2016 conference. Over 15 researchers came together to analyze almost two dozen subject-based web archives created by institutions using our Archive-It service. Universities, archives, museums, and others contributed web archive collections on topics ranging from the Occupy Movement to Human Rights to Contemporary Women Artists on the Web. Hackathon teams geo-located IP addresses, analyzed sentiments and entities in webpage text, and studied mime type distributions.

unleashed attendeesunleashed_vizSimilarly, in June, our friends at Library of Congress hosted the second Archives Unleashed  datathon, a follow-on to a previous event held at University of Toronto in March 2016. The fantastic team organizing these two Archives Unleashed hackathons have created an excellent model for bringing together transdisciplinary researchers and librarians/archivists to foster work with web data. In both Archives Unleashed events, attendees formed into self-selecting teams to work together on specific analytical approaches and with specific web archive collections and datasets provided by Library of Congress, Internet Archive, University of Toronto, GWU’s Social Feed Manager, and others. The #hackarchives tweet stream gives some insight into the hacktivities, and the top projects were presented at the Save The Web symposium held at LC’s Kluge Center the day after the event.

Both events show a bright future for expanding new access models, scholarship, and collaborations around building and using web archives. Plus, nobody crashed the wi-fi at any of these events! Yay!

Special thanks go to Altiscale (and Start Smart Labs) and ComputeCanada for providing cluster computing services to support these events. Thanks also go to the multiple funding agencies, including NSF and SSHRC, that provided funding, and to the many co-sponsoring and hosting institutions. Super special thanks go to key organizers, Helge Holzman and Avishek Anand at L3S and Matt Weber, Ian Milligan, and Jimmy Lin at Archives Unleashed, who made these events a rollicking success.

For those interested in participating in a web archives hackathon/datathon, more are in the works, so stay tuned to the usual social media channels. If you are interested in helping host an event, please let us know. Lastly, for those that can’t make an event, but are interested in working with web archives data, check out our Archives Research Services Workshop.

Lastly, some links to blog posts, projects, and tools from these events:

Some related blog posts:

Some hackathon projects:

Some web archive analysis tools:

Here’s to more happy web archives hacking in the future!