Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NLB archives Singapore blogs

As reported in The Straits Times, "Local blogs being added to S'pore's historical archives" (7 Jan '08) by Keith Lin:

The National Library Board (NLB) is adding blogs to Singapore's historical archives as part of its efforts to retain a comprehensive record of online content.

In all, the library aims to archive some 100 blogs by the end of the year.

Eleven have been selected so far, ranging from offerings such as Air-Conditioned Nation ( by media academic Cherian George, to the satirical Mr Brown (

Mr Raju Buddharaju, the library's director of digital resources and services, described blogs as an 'invaluable' source of news and social commentary for the present and future generations of Singaporeans.

'Content from blogs often offers views which would otherwise not be accessible from mainstream media,' he said.

Even so, the library is selective when it comes to deciding which blogs to archive.

Only those produced by individuals who are recognised experts in their respective fields of knowledge, famous personalities or award-winning blogs will be considered, Mr Raju said.

The library will take digital snapshots of the selected blogs at least once a year and post their contents on its web archive - available at Access is open and free to the public.


Said Dr George, who has three blogs looking at various aspects of Singapore media and politics in the archives: 'This is not about the authorities giving legitimacy to individual blogs.

'It is part of a welcome movement in Singapore to recognise the value of multiple perspectives in telling the Singapore story.'

Link to the free ST article, here.

NLB web archive - Advanced search page

Back in Oct '06, when the Web Archive Singapore project was announced, it drew the attention of well-known Singaporean blogger mrbrown, who created a special podcast episode on the topic.

So it's official mrbrown!

And you probably can sleep a little easier, knowing that snapshots of your blog will be available for posterity. : )

Incidentally I spotted Jean's post, where she wrote:
At first read, it seems like elitism at its best again. Then again, we shouldn’t be so petty about it, right?

She was responding to the web selection guideline of "choosing individuals who are recognised as experts in their fields, famous personalities or are award winning".

Just like for physical libraries, it's impossible to acquire everything there is. Inevitably there will be some criteria imposed on the What, When and Who to archive.

But just like the case of physical libraries, if you have something (i.e. a blog) that you highly recommend, make a suggestion! I'm sure NLB would give it due consideration.

BTW I don't speak for NLB. Some people have emailed me to enquire about the project. I'm more than happy to redirect your emails, though it's faster to enquire at NLB direct.

You can also read the FAQs about the Web Archive Singapore.
[related post: How to access the NLB Web Archive Singapore (WAS)]


  1. Anonymous3:44 pm

    "a comprehensive record of online content."

    I believe this is a misrepresentation of fact. How "comprehensive" can it really be? If it's based on such a narrow and restricted criteria?

    I believe they will have an uphill
    task trying to persuade those in the know. FYI, some of the bloggers out there have already started the whole idea of archiving themselves as far back as 2003. As an American historian, I find this very strange, why should they even bother to do so? If the NLB is doing such a good job?


  2. Who needs NLB when we have the Internet Archive Wayback Bachine ;)

    More powerful somemore

  3. Dr Ming Yee3:55 pm

    Good Day Ivan,

    Great article. Just to add my 2 pennies.

    There was alot of bad blood between the bro-hood, Singapore Angle and BL & Co.

    This was a brilliant opportunity to bring it all to a final curtain close and to heal the rift finally.

    Instead all it did was widen the divide even further. I suspect that's because the same personalities who featured very much in nailing the BP are probably in some way responsible for this whole initiative. I stand corrected of course.

    Do I blame those boys in BP? I don't think that's possible, they produce rain and shine. They have always been there. If you don't believe me, you can even log in everyday in JUST STUFF and 9 out of 10, there is a new article straight from the oven. And in the IS there are still getting hits.

    As for Cherian George what can I say. I dont wish to emblemish the situation, but I really don't believe there is any comparison between the BP and him. It like comparing a F-16 with a prop plane.

    If such a blog can even be ignored like rubbish, then the rest of us don't even stand a chance. You can be assured of one thing, they will definitely not be writing in.

    Blogosphere just got more divided. Sorry for being so long winded, I just felt, I needed to say my piece for those boys.

  4. Ming Yee, who's the "Bro-hood" and what is "BP"? Sorry, catch no ball :)

    But while I don't have enough information to respond to the comments so far (and maybe I'm not allowed to since I'm not the official spokesperson for this), I have to say that some of my colleagues involved in the Web Archive Singapore are sincere in their efforts and are open to feedback. I'll be channeling your comments to them. Cheers.

  5. ming yee11:51 am


    You needn't bother. Just heard they have skipped town again.

    They are some where in HK. I believe they are busy preparing for the Olympics.

    I will be leaving Blogosphere. Thanks for the Fish. As for NLB, pls dont waste my time. I have no time for idiots

  6. Evelyn4:06 pm


    Lets not complicate the matter. As I see it, this whole matter has absolutely nothing to do with those space monkeys and everything to do with how we wish to define our history as a nation and people.

    The question is whether the 11 selected bloggers can accurately represent the composition of blogosphere to adequately capture the historical account?

    Now had the NLB not used the word "comprehensive" and "historical" they could have successfully avoided this faux pas.

    As it is, the NLB cannot run away from others asking was any parametric-historic method used? Since the word "comprehensive" is used this implies both the ‘deductive’ and ‘historic’ procedures have been deployed. Were they used?

    Pls note these techniques are hardly novel and they form the basis of anything that has anything to do with "history" in the orthodox context - so they have been developed specifically for the estimation of "historical" events. You can even say this is the first question any historian will use to query the work of another historians.

    Was this even conducted? I think not, otherwise why restrict it to only a spread of 11 bloggers?

    Where I feel the NLB may have disqualified it'self in the eyes of most professionals is by restricting the selection to only so called "experts" and famous personalities. I for one have absolutely no idea what they are referring too when they coin the term "expert." This is is certainly very curious.

    The problem with such a narrow definition of bloggers is its bound to skewer the analysis to historical part of the catalogue containing only the selected personalities, whereas the complete part is not even divided according to their subcatalogues.

    Therefore how can the NLB even claim that it's a historical account?

    I think we can more or less throw it into the dustbin.

  7. Remember to put on your tinfoil helmets!

    Evelyn: Indeed, they should not have used those superlative words, but an imperfect record is better than no record at all.

    Also, I believe 11 is what they've done to date, and they have 100 in total. I'd be interested to see the full list! Or even the 11 that have been done had so far.

  8. Perm Sec10:17 am

    An imperfect record is better than no record at all. That I believe is the real crux of the issue. How is history typically revised? By mixing truth with lashings of fiction.

    I agree with Evenlyn, this has nothing to do with the Brotherhood Press. Besides we all know they like to go over the top with these sort of things. And I am very sure if history is to go by, they will even assemble their own subject matter experts to re-write their own version of history.

    A few years ago there was this lady her name is Amy Lai Tak-yee I believe she is from the humanities dept of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Her publications include articles on Gao Xingjian, Ding Ling and Wei Hui, as well as the consumption of Hello Kitty. She also writes poetry and has published in Wasafiri and other journals.

    The reason why I mentioned Amy Lai is because her work currently represents the benchmark for online related historical archiving. No guesses who she is allied too.

    We have certainly not seen the last of this. My point is the NLB is not the definitive bench mark, so it is premature to get worked up abt it. Even those within the NLB recognize there are severe limits to their capacity to accurately document historical accounts / hence the widespread use of consultants like Dr Amy Lai.

    However, one thing does confound me no end why did the Nat lib board even feel the need to highlight the 11 bloggers? Did they not know 80% of the bloggers in the net are anon? So how can they even be remotely representative? I also feel the reportage was high inaccurate as it was mentioned Dr George has 3 blogs, but what it fails to mention is the frequency that these blogs publish. I happen to have detailed publishing figures on blogs, if anyone needs it.

    So where does that leave us? No closer to the truth, I am afraid. Have a nice weekend and sorry for being so losoh.

    My regret is Nat Lib will go down in history as triggering off the biggest brain drain in our blogosphere.

    Can anyone imagine where Singapore would be in the map? If we could have developed the technology to broadcast the Olympics in the internet?

  9. Where does a brain drain come in?!

  10. mr librarian, tot u might like to read the comments about the nlb archives and maybe pass it as feedback to ur colleagues in charge of the archive

    this was linked in sgdaily btw in case nlb needs some pointers in good singaporean blogs


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