Seeing to it that the impact of the war in Ukraine on our digital history and culture can be analysed. This was the aim of the IIPC (International Internet Preservation Coalition) when it started collecting international websites that report on the conflict in Ukraine. Together with la Bibliothèque nationale de France (The National Library of France), the KB National Library of the Netherlands is the chief curator (collector) of this web collection

From July 2022 until now, four website crawls have fetched and stored content from 1,358 different websites. The collection includes news portals, sites of governments, embassies, and help organisations, heritage sites, social media and memes. It will give future researchers an impression of the digital culture and history of this war. 

Internet history 

According to Kees Teszelszky, curator of the digital collections at the KB, this collection is of vital importance. Teszelszky: "This conflict is not only being fought in the real world, but also online. News sites report on the latest developments, opinion makers blog in order to boost the morale of the opposition forces and both human rights organisations and pro-Russian organisations appeal for support. We are also seeing a lot of private initiatives whereby civilians are trying to monitor the war, help civilians or check the facts, for example. Citizen journalists and citizen researchers are playing a huge role in this conflict, which is having an enormous impact on web culture and internet history. Since July 2022, 298 sites have gone offline or haven’t been updated. If we hadn’t stored them in our collection, they would have been lost forever."

Here are a few examples of Dutch websites included in the collection: What does the Netherlands do by the Dutch Ministry of Defence, A Dutch farmer in Ukraine, Help for the animals from Ukraine and Helmets full of stories: voices from Ukraine (which shares stories told by women from the North-Eastern province Oblast, together with those of Dutch veterans). Preceding the first crawl, Teszelszky and his colleagues at la Bibliothèque nationale de France called on experts as well as the general public to nominate websites for the collection. Sites can still be nominated via this link. The next crawl is scheduled in a few months’ time.