Archivi.ng: Reviving Lost Nigerian News With 18,627 Days Of Digital Archives
Archivi.ng is giving old newspapers in Nigeria a digital home as it recaptures 18,627 days of lost Nigerian news.
Archivi.ng began its mission to recapture lost Nigerian history by digitizing old newspapers and making them accessible to everyone online in December 2020.
Project leader Fu’ad Lawal told Rest of World that his biggest motivation came from life in the newsroom as a journalist, as he found it frustrating to write about a particular place but not find any information online.
He and a group of friends, as a weekend hobby, tried to see how many newspapers across five decades of Nigerian history they could find in libraries and archives across the country.
“In Nigeria, we are living without a lot of context. The internet started to pick up in the late 2000s, and digital media didn’t make a proper appearance until the 2010s,” said Lawal.
The team has committed to archiving at least one newspaper daily between January 1960 and December 2010 to complete this phase by June 30, 2024.
Bringing the archives online
On September 30, the Archivi.ng website officially launched to the public.
Lawal said when doing this, he realized how much it would help Africa’s advancement with AI, and there will now be a point of sourcing for most generative AI, which currently lacks African context.
“Every large language model is built on data, and Africa is grossly underrepresented,” said Lawal.
“In this context, where data is a major raw material, we need to bring our historical data online to have a maximum and accurate representation in this era of generative modeling.”
Archivi.ng’s primary source comes from newspaper companies that give them access to archive their papers.
After collecting the papers, they tag them manually, scan them, and then upload them on the platform with keywords.
When people search for a particular keyword, scanned papers relevant to the search pop up.
In this first phase, they also aim to build a v1 web experience so everyone can see the newspaper scanned.
“Archivi.ng will start important conversations that need to be had not only in Nigeria but across Africa,” said in-house operations team member Ify Ogbue.
“The stories we see are about every community in Nigeria, even the marginalized communities. With these stories available, we can start changing things effectively.”
So far, Archivi.ng has raised $40,000 through donations and hopes to raise $100,000 by year’s end.
Having scanned over 50,000 newspaper pages, the website is now freely accessible.