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An Internet time machine – Internet Archive, archive.org

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The Hindu | Metro Plus |  ANSHUMAN RANE| January 21, 2017 |

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about my love of history and some of my favourite historical archives and resources online. They were all made possible by the Internet. But what about the history of the Internet itself? We live in an age where digital artifacts (photos, comments, emails) are disposable. Although you can find almost anything on the Internet, everything on the Internet is as permanent as the server it lives on. If the server is taken offline, the service, website, image repository, video goes offline with it, sometimes never to return. Creating digital media is as easy as taking a picture on a smartphone and posting it on a social channel, for potentially hundreds of millions of people to access. This automatically means that some Internet media are created to be ephemeral, and impermanence is the whole point of creating and sharing.

It’s so easy to build a website, start a social media account, post a comment online — in short, create digital artefacts on the Internet — that we don’t even think about it. Much less think about what happens to these artifacts after we create them. But websites die, servers are killed, social media companies get bought by bigger social media companies and then shut down. (Does anyone remember Orkut?) And when this happens, a whole swath of Internet history disappears as well. The Internet is, therefore, very much deletable. Think about the hundreds of emails, comments, photos and other things you’ve deleted online, with scarcely a thought. That’s where the Internet Archive comes in. It’s basically a huge, free Internet library that collects and stores everything it can for anyone to access. Started in 1996, the Internet Archive — archive.org — has a collection of 279 billion web pages, including whole sites. All this is made possible through the magic of the Wayback Machine.

When I was a young journalist, the website I was writing for shut down very suddenly, and I couldn’t save my work. I remember going to the Wayback Machine to access my old site, find my articles and save them. It was a lifesaver. But even if you’re interested in seeing what a site looked like in the old days, and how it’s evolved over time, you could go along, type in the URL and browse the site. Out of curiosity, I went to visit The Hindu on August 15, 2000, and here’s what I saw. The Internet Archive doesn’t just save websites, it also collects audio, video, images, ebooks, software and much more. If you’re feeling nostalgic for, say, the old days of MS-DOS and are missing those great games you grew up playing, just head over to the Internet Archive and download copies of the original Prince of Persia, Street Fighter or Carmen Sandiego. The Internet Archive is truly a fantastic resource to delve into the history of the Internet. So the next time you’re feeling at a loose end, head over and have an explore. It’ll be well worth the visit. – Courtesy   /    https://archive.org/


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