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Extinction isn’t just a biological issue. In the 21st century, it’s a technical, even digital one, too.
The average web page might last three months before it’s altered or deleted forever. You never know when access to the information on these web pages is going to be needed. It might be three months from now; it might be three decades. That’s how the Wayback Machine serves—making history by saving history. Now, the Wayback Machine is fighting digital extinction in brand new ways.
As the Internet Archive prepares for its anniversary celebration on Oct. 23, our Wayback Team is unveiling some new features to make what some call “the memory of the web” even more detailed and responsive.
Try out some of our new Wayback Machine Features:
- Changes: a new service enabling users to select two different versions of a given URL and compare them side by side. Differences in the text of the content are highlighted in yellow and blue.
Just click the “Changes” link at the top of the “Calendar View” page to find an index of archives of the selected URL with a high-level indicator of the degree of change between the available archives. When no content has changed, the page appears in the same color. You can then select any two archived versions of the page so they can be rendered side-by-side with the changes between them highlighted in blue and yellow. Best of all you can then share this “Changes” URL with others (e.g. via Twitter or embedded in a news story) so others can easily see the changes as well.
- Save Page Now: an updated version of perhaps the most popular feature of the Wayback Machine. Of particular import is the new ability to archive all the embedded links and outlinks (connections to external web sites) with just one click.
Also new is the ability for users to save web archives in a public directory of favorite items. It’s essentially a personal but public bookmarking system of pages that others can follow. Imagine how important this might be for future researchers, family members or fans interested in the web pages you chose to personally save for all time.
- Collections: A new way to learn about why a given URL has been archived into the Wayback Machine. Start by clicking the “Collections” link at the top of any “Calendar View” page. You will then be shown a list of all the collections that this URL is included in, plus you can select individual playback URLs from any of those Collections. Click on the Collection name to learn more about its provenance. And if it was created as part of the Internet Archive’s Archive-It service, you can execute full-text searches on archived web pages that are part of that collection.
- Show All Captures: The Wayback Machine archives some URLs many times a day. In some cases hundreds, or even thousands of times a day. While all of those captures have been available for playback, the calendar view would only show a sampling of those captures. The new Show All Captures feature now presents a list of each and every capture available per day, even for captures that are made seconds apart.
Who will be using these new features? Earlier this month, Mark Graham, the Wayback Machine’s director, got a request from a TV journalist for help—not just for something Trumpian or Brexit-ish. Instead, the just-married journalist saw that her wedding day web page was about to expire and wanted to be sure it would be preserved. Using the new and improved Save Page Now, she was able to preserve the page (including all outlinks) with one click.The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) partners with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine in order to produce reports that monitor the government.
The Environmental Data and Government Initiative (EDGI) partners with the Wayback Machine in its work monitoring government websites with particular emphasis on environmental issues. Our new Changes feature will help them track and publicize how government agencies are deleting and altering information about climate change and environmental protection issues, by comparing and publishing web pages side-by-side.
Graham underscores that the Wayback Machine, which has many scholarly, historical and journalistic uses, “is relevant to how you live in the United States today. Wayback Machine captures are even admissible in many courts.”
“It can be used for holding people and governments accountable,” he said. “At the same time, it can be used for other things, like a bride’s request to preserving a wedding page.”
Fighting digital extinction, the Wayback Machine way.
Recorded on: 18 October 2019
Research from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), part of the University of Oxford, has revealed a rapid increase in the use of the internet for commercial, banking and entertainment purposes. The number of people paying bills online, watching films and TV series’ and streaming music via the internet has increased significantly since 2013.
However, there is a growing divide in experience and perception between those who use the internet and those who do not, which could lead to non-users potentially missing out on access to key services, widening the “digital divide”.
We talk to Dr Bernie Hogan during Get Online Week about what advice he would give to people thinking about going online for the first time but might be reluctant to get connected.
The Internet Archive’s central mission is establishing “Universal Access to All Knowledge,” and we want to make sure that our library of millions of books, journals, audio files, and video recordings is available to anyone. Since lack of an internet connection is a major obstacle to that goal, we created the Offline Archive project—that works to make online collections available regardless of internet availability.
For many of our readers, the internet seems omnipresent—like electricity and running water, it’s available everywhere from our homes and offices to trains and planes. But for more than half of the world’s population, that access is far from guaranteed. In many developing countries and rural areas, the infrastructure that enables internet access is unreliable, slow, or nonexistent, while natural disasters and conflicts may exacerbate the problem. Additionally, internet access can be too expensive for many people, and some governments limit internet access or censor the content for political reasons. All of these factors can combine to make internet access inconsistent, low-quality, or altogether unavailable for billions of people, which in turn leads to poor educational outcomes and intergenerational poverty. Compounding the challenge, the internet in wealthier countries is growing rapidly, and high-bandwidth videos and graphics are making it harder than ever for people on low-quality networks to participate in the modern web.
As part of a solution to this problem, we have built an offline server that transfers Internet Archive collections to a local server, caches content while browsing, and delivers the Internet Archive UI offline in the browser. The system moves content between servers by “sneakernet”—on disks, USB sticks, and SD cards. This approach should improve access for anything from a Raspberry Pi to an institutional server holding terabytes of data. Right now, we’re working to make it available in a variety of different languages, so that anybody can utilize it—not just English speakers.An Orange Pi, a Raspberry Pi, and an Australian 20-cent coin for scale. These small devices can serve the media of the Internet Archive in remote off-line locations.
Best of all, the Offline Archive project is open source, so that people around the world can collaborate to make it better. We are currently integrating the Archive’s APIs with those of our partners, to make it easier for them to incorporate Internet Archive content. Together with our collaborators, we can bring the Internet Archive anywhere—ensuring that people everywhere can enjoy our digital library.
If you would like to lend a hand, there are lots of ways to collaborate:
- Software developers can help us add features, platforms, and internationalization
- Platform developers can talk to us about integrating the Internet Archive’s content or server
- Content owners and aggregators can help make more content available, especially educational content and material in other languages.
- Community networks and internet access practitioners can help by becoming early adopters
See archive.org/about/offline-archive for more information, or contact email@example.com to collaborate or contribute to this project.
If you would like to see the Offline Archive in action and meet its builder, Mitra Ardron, then come to the Internet Archive World Night Market on October 23rd and look for the Offline Archive demo table!