Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Among the conceptual and methodological opportunities afforded by the Internet Archive, and more specifically, the WayBack Machine, is the capacity to capture and “play back” the history a web page, most notably a website's homepage. These playbacks could be construed as “website histories”, distinctive at least in principle from other uses put to the Internet Archive such as “digital history” and “Internet history”. In the following, common use cases for web archives are put forward in a discussion of digital source criticism. Thereafter, I situate website history within traditions in web historiography. The particular approach to website history introduced here is called “screencast documentaries”. Building upon Jon Udell's pioneering screencapturing work retelling the edit history of a Wikipedia page, I discuss overarching strategies for narrating screencast documentaries of websites, namely histories of the Web as seen through the changes to a single page, media histories as negotiations between new and old media as well as digital histories made from scrutinising changes to the list of priorities at a tone-setting institution such as whitehouse.gov.