Internet Time Travel

Going backward in time with The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine at Archive.org.

Wayback MachineSharing a tool that’s come in very useful over the years and one I consistently recommend in “Agency World“. In the past when doing consistent client web design they’d often reference an old site they lost where they were naive and didn’t have their hosting credentials and were left at the mercy of an elusive web designer. We could sweep in as the saviors and magically resurrect their site even when that hosting account was long gone. Nine times out of ten  you can use Archive.org to time travel backwards and see the site as it once was. I’ve rarely been stumped to not see a site out there. It won’t archive elaborate database driven websites and discussion forums. However, with some slight tweaks and knowing how to use Firefox’s firebug you can download all source images and style sheets to seemingly bring things back to life.

It also helps if you’ve been a bonehead and didn’t back up files from a site you’ve been working on over the years and you need that old image file or that copy that was really good.

I’ve also seen The Wayback Machine helpful for the non-technical agency and client types. Often I hear the question, “Didn’t we have such and such on our home page?” or “I can’t remember the features of that product we had four years ago“. A simple search via Archive.org can answer these questions quickly.

The Internet Archive: Wayback Machine is in the true Spirit of The Internet and heralds from the ancient days of 1996 as a non-profit with content curated from Alexa Internet subsequently purchased by Amazon. This is a highly sophisticated and inspiring attempt to archive and preserve the enormous amount of data that has permeated the universe in such a short amount of time. They’re really the current Library of Congress for the metaverse. As their about page says

Libraries exist to preserve society’s cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it’s essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world.

Use it. Fund it.

I consulted the Wikipedia Entry on this post and was pleased to see that the Wayback Machine earned it’s name from the WABAC Machine used by none other than Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Everything written here are the views of Tim Aten and Tim Aten only. They have no relation, nor are they the views of any of my employers past or present.

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