I’m deep in writing the final chapters of my dissertation (wish me luck!), but happened to notice that a recent article that I published in Archivaria is no longer publicly available. I wanted to drop a note here with a link to the PDF which I’m allowed to distribute.

This article was available initially because of some loosening of access that happened during the first months of the Coronavirus. But it seems that the grip of academic publishing has tightened again, even while the grip of the Coronavirus has not. Eventually Archivaria make their back catalog of articles available for free on the web, but until then here it is.

Summers, E. (2020). Appraisal Talk in Web Archives. Archivaria, 89 (Spring), 70-102.


The Web is a vast and constantly changing information landscape that by its very nature seems to resist the idea of the archive. But for the last 20 years, archivists and technologists have worked together to build systems for doing just that. While technical infrastructures for performing web archiving have been well studied, surprisingly little is known about the interactions between archivists and these infrastructures. How do archivists decide what to archive from the Web? How do the tools for archiving the Web shape these decisions? This study analyzes a series of ethnographic interviews with web archivists to understand how their decisions about what to archive function as part of a community of practice. It uses critical discourse analysis to examine how the participants’ use of language enacts their appraisal decision-making processes. Findings suggest that the politics and positionality of the archive are reflected in the ways that archivists talk about their network of personal and organizational relationships. Appraisal decisions are expressive of the structural relationships of an archives as well as of the archivists’ identities, which form during mentoring relationships. Self-reflection acts as a key method for seeing the ways that interviewers and interviewees work together to construct the figured worlds of the web archive. These factors have implications for the ways archivists communicate with each other and interact with the communities that they document. The results help ground the encounter between archival practice and the architecture of the Web.

I should note that I remain very grateful for the editorial guidance that I received from Fiorella Foscarini and Jennifer Douglas while preparing this article for publication. They helped refine many of the ideas it contains, and specifically helped me present the application of Critical Discourse Analysis as a research method.