Hacktivists put BBC archive online

Download the bbc.closing.sites.archive.torrent file
On Monday 24th January 2011 the BBC announced that it would be restructuring its online department – with 360 job losses and the deletion of 200 of its top level directories (including the websites that live under them – eg http://www.bbc.co.uk/blast). 172 of of those top level directories are due to be deleted within the coming 12 months.
Most of these sites are already ‘mothballed’, which means that the BBC has discontinued the development of these websites on a day-to-day basis. However with this announcement the BBC has decided to go further and physically delete these sites from its servers – thus removing them from the Internet altogether in the name of ‘significant’ cost savings.
(Nick Reynolds, Social Media Executive for BBC Online and also a thoroughly nice chap, has pointed out the BBC’s side of this, which I am delighted to link to in the interest of fairness)
As time goes on, the on-going cost of storing website data decreases – to the extent that the sum total of these sites is practically nothing by today’s standards.
The purpose of this project is to show how the entire 172 public facing websites that are earmarked for deletion have been copied, archived, distributed and republished online – independently – for the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee (around $3.99).
In other words the true cost saving of this horrendous exercise is nothing more than your morning’s grande skinny caramel latte.
Why has this come about?
Senior BBC management, who amusingly often incorrectly refer to their top level directories as “top level domains”, are taking the drastic action of deleting almost half of their website catalogue of sites. The reason for this is to demonstrate cost savings within the department which form part of the BBC’s response to a net decrease in the size of the license fee it may collect, as determined by the UK Government. Although we are in harsh economic times with cuts across the board, these attempts to downsize and weaken the organization began with the Hutton Inquiry in 2003 under the Labour government and continue through to today under the Tory/Lib Dem coalition (now catalysed by the influence of 3rd parties with their own agendas such as Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp).
A weaker BBC means a weaker free press and in turn a weaker British democracy and society at large.
The purpose of this project is to expose the ‘cost savings’ of this proposed exercise as nothing more than a charade to appease the detractors to a strong BBC, and to curry favour with the current government. BBC’s current senior management has demonstrated a lack of leadership and a lack of courage in pushing back on these demands.
Instead, they are prepared to sacrifice a large amount of still useful, marginal-cost content in order to horse trade for concessions elsewhere, as they cave in to this pressure.
So what did I do?
When I found out the BBC would be deleting 172 of its websites, I spidered and downloaded all of the content under each of these top level directories on the http://bbc.co.uk domain. I purchased a $3.99 ‘low end box’ type VPS server and began the crawl. In total this took just under 24hrs – and would have been quicker if I had been less kind to the BBC’s servers. For the aforementioned cost of $3.99 for a cup of Starbucks coffee, anyone can obtain, store and keep this content alive and accessible to the general public. And with this torrent I’ve already done the heavy lifting of retrieving the data for you.
This $3.99/month box is now hosting the content and making it available both via both the web and via bit torrent. I may mirror the sites here when the sites are purged from the BBC’s servers, right now I’m using the bandwidth to seed the torrent
Clearly the BBC has additional costs associated with its size and scale, compounded due to the poor decision to sell off the organization’s technical infrastructure to Siemens, from whom it now rents those services back from. But even rounding up those 12 cups of coffee/year to £10,000/year, this still represents negligible budget impact and significant license payer value.
So what is in this torrent?
Contained within this torrent is a gzip tarball of each site, archived individually, allowing you to download just the site(s) you are interested in.
How you can help
I encourage you to download and seed what you can in order to maintain the availability of these sites once the BBC purges them from its webservers. If you have a webserver you could also host some or all of these sites – although this may have legal implications (please consult your lawyer).
Finally, if you desire a strong and independent BBC then I implore you to make your feelings known to your local MP and directly to Jeremy ‘Cunt’ Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. You may also wish to communicate to Mark Thompson (BBC Director General) and the BBC Trust your desire to see a stronger BBC position in negotiations with the government around the cuts to the BBC’s funding.
PS: You may also find these thoughts of interest: http://adactio.com/journal/4336, http://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2011/01/vandalism-of-bbc-online-history.php

Autor: Klaus Graf

Historiker und Archivar, Blogger

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