Can you remember what your institution’s home page looked like when the service was first launched? And how did it evolve over time? Did you take advantage of frames when they were first released? Did you then exploit client-side technologies such as Java, JavaScript and Flash (and perhaps even ActiveX control)? And how long did they last before you realised the downside of such technologies?

And did changes to the home page not only reflect changes in technologies, but also the department which had responsibility for the home page? Did the home page have a visual makeover when the marketing department took responsibility?

More importantly, though, do you have a record of how the home page looked, and documented descriptions of the reasons for the changes? This could be a valuable part of your organisation’s digital history and it would be unfortunate if such information were lost.

If strikes me that one of the lessons we should have learnt from our experiences with organisational Web sites is the need for such record-keeping. And these lessons should be applied to the approaches we are taking in a Web 2.0 environment, as we (as seems to be the case) set up institutional presences in Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc.

How should we go about doing this? Should we take screen shots of the interface when substantive changes are made? Or perhaps at fixed intervals (monthly, perhaps)? And can we automated the process? Or should such data be a standard item in Web team reports?

Or rather than capturing the screen interface, should we not be harvesting the HTML pages? And how easy will this be if the pages are dependent on the installation of particular applications?

Has anybody started to address such issues?