n. (abbr. DocNow)a set of tools and an online community that support the ethical collection, use, and preservation of social media contentJules, Summers, and Mitchell 2018, 2The recently-completed Documenting the Now project entailed the creation of new digital tools to facilitate the collection, analysis and preservation of tweets and associated web content, as well as engagement with a broad range of stakeholders around the myriad issues involved in working with this content. Documenting the Now had a particular focus on social media content created by participants in the recent wave of African-American activism in response to police shootings.SAA 2018b, 24For the past three years, DocNow’s team and Advisory Board have worked tirelessly to develop tools and a community that extends far beyond that of professional archivists.Velte 2018Documenting the Now involves a variety of stakeholders, including researchers, to develop tools and best practices that reduce the ethical ambiguities described in this study.Mellon Foundation 2019In the interest of ethics, DocNow also maintained a Slack channel so that the public could chat with them about digital archiving, and they organized public events in the archiving and activist communities to figure out best practices.DocNow 2020Documenting the Now responds to the public’s use of social media for chronicling historically significant events as well as demand from scholars, students, and archivists, among others, seeking a user-friendly means of collecting and preserving this type of digital content. Documenting the Now has a strong commitment to prioritizing ethical practices when working with social media content, especially in terms of collection and long-term preservation.
The project was sparked by the challenges faced when archivists sought to preserve social media content relating to the protests led by Black Lives Matter activists in 2014 after the fatal police shooting of Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The tools and ethical guidelines are intended for scholars, students, activists, and professional archivists. DocNow received the Society of American Archivists’ Council Exemplary Service Award in 2018. It was established through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.