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Preservation and reusability of Instagram content: with examples from the public sector of Sweden
Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, Archive Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4350-6346
2018 (English)In: Imatge i Recerca : Jornades Antoni Varés (15es : 2018 : Girona), Girona, 2018Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many public sector organizations today use social media to communicate with the citizens. In Sweden, where government information is strictly regulated there have been several discussions regarding these organizations use of social media as the content is considered governmental information. In this paper I will analyze two city archives (Stockholm City Archive and The Regional Archives for Gothenburg and Region Västra Götaland) instructions regarding their use of social media in general and the application Instagram particulary. These instructions will be analyzed through a theoretical framework containing provenance, preservation and reusability. Instagram is particularly interesting because the main communication is done through pictures which can be hard to preserve, hard to record the provenance regarding, but that people often are eager to reuse. In the end two models for a practical preservation of Instagram content will be presented. Two models of preservation that take provenance and reusability in account.

In Sweden all public organizations such as municipalities and government agencies have to treat their information flow carefully. Every document that is created or received by a public organization is perceived as an official document (“Allmän handling”). Such document must be released to the public on demand if the information in it is not subject to any secrecy regulations. In the legislation the definition of a document is very broad – it could be any type of information that a public organization holds. Automatically generated logfiles, maps, pictures, virtually anything that is perceived as information can be an official document. These types information is also supposed to be preserved in an archive, if there not is a regulation from the National archives or other qualified agency that states otherwise. This makes the discussion regarding preserving social media relevant.

Instagram provides a possibility to download all posted content from your user account. This has been a feature in the Instagram Application since April 2018. The result is a zip-file with a series of files in JSON-format. These files contains all likes, messages, captions et cetera that has been generated through the account. The zipped content also contains all pictures and videos the account has posted, and all direct messages (pictures or videos) that the account has had sent to it. There are also independent scraping tools that let you download content from accounts that you don’t are the owner off.These types of scraping tools are off less interest in this study, but could be useful for public organizations if they collect content from other users or in cases were a public organization has lost control over an account. There is no research yet that mentions Instagram, but scraping through API, application programming interface, the programming interface that social media suppliers offers for professional users, have been recommended as an archiving tool for Twitter.

The theoretical foundation of this study is the concept of provenance as it is used within the discipline of Archival Science. The goal is to discuss preservation solutions that will enable us to preserve reusable content with its provenance intact. The reason to search for such solutions is to cater both to contemporary and future users of the preserved content. Provenance, or respect des fonds, is a key concept in archival theory. There are multiple aspects of provenance but one is that what we call an archive is the natural accumulation of an organization. It is not – as in the case with a library – a collection of information, collected by the organization. It is the administrative accumulation of an organization, the mail sent to it and the protocol on which its representatives have written their decisions. To keep the provenance is to let the accumulated administrative material in an order close to its original order. Material from different organizations should not be mixed when they reach an archival institution, they should be kept sorted in relation to their original accumulator. Reusability and preservation are two other criteria that are used beside provenance.

The two largest cities in Sweden, Stockholm and Gothenburg are the only ones that seem to have any instruction for archiving Instagram content. These instructions, which differs in some ways have been analyzed with the concepts of provenance, reusability and preservation. In relation to this analysis, two different methods for archiving Instagram content has been produced. Planned content management – a method in which reusability and the preservation of easily reusable archives are in focus. Content download – a method in which the preservation of the content is done in way which preserves the social media provenance.

The study concludes that when we choose a method we must know it’s limitations. We must also know what kind of end result we want. Then we must let these two aspects intermingle when until we find a solution that is both possible for the organization and gives us a preferable end result. In the end, if we strive for provenance we might lose some of the contents reusability. And if we strive for reusability we might lose some of the contents provenance. If we want both the archive will be considerably larger and there will be more work accumulated in the end product.

Scientific contribution

The main scientific contribution of this study is the discussion regarding different methods of preservation of Instagram content. A discussion that is possible to apply to other social media application. To this a discussion regarding social media and provenance is added. Both these contributions could be a stepping stone for further discussion regarding how to treat social media from an archival science perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Girona, 2018.
Keywords [en]
Instagram, social media, provenance, reusability, preservation, archival science.
National Category
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Historical Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-36807OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-36807DiVA, id: diva2:1265313
Conference
Images et Recerca, Girona, November 21th-24th, 2018
Available from: 2018-11-22 Created: 2018-11-22 Last updated: 2018-11-26Bibliographically approved

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Preservation and reusability of Instagram content- with examples from the public sector of Sweden

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Friberg von Sydow, Rikard

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