Most of the time my interest is about making sure that users of websites can get access to an appropriate version of the website, or that the site works on a variety of different devices. But as websites become more personalised, my version of your website might look different to your version.
But one of the other projects that I’m involved with is looking at web archiving of University websites, mainly internal ones that aren’t being captured by the Internet Archive or the UK Web Archive. And personalisation and different forms that websites can take is one of the really big challenges for capturing web sites. So I was interested to read a recent article in D-Lib Magazine ‘A method for identifying personalised representations in web archives’ by Kelly, Brunelle, Weigle and Nelson, D-Lib Magazine, November/December 2013, Vol. 19, number 11/12 doi:10.1045/november2013-kelly http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november13/kelly/11kelly.html
This article describes how the user-agent string in mobile browsers is used to serve different versions of webpages. They show some good examples from CNN of the completely different representations that you might see on iphones, desktops and android devices. The paper goes on to talk through some possible solutions to identify different versions and suggests a modification of the Wayback machine engine to allow the user to choose which versions of a user-agent you may want to view from an archive. Combined with the memento approach that offers time-based versions of a website it’s interesting to see an approach that starts to look at ways of capturing the increasingly fragmented and personalised nature of the web.