Sunday, December 30, 2012

Internet Archive Love

Earlier this month my organization had our annual board meeting at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.  We have  a relationship with them through their Open Library project, though I've been a fan of them for years because of their awesome Wayback Machine.   Since one of the Internet Archive's goals is to archive every page of every website, you can check out what sites like Yahoo looked like back in the day.  Remember Lycos?  Here's a nifty screenshot from 1999.  Remember Beanie Babies?  And how everything used to be curated by subject? 

So anyway, you can have hours and hours of fun on the Wayback Machine, and I highly recommend it for fun on a rainy day.  It's also useful.  I had a geocities website on Colonial America that I started right after college in 1998.  I got lazy and stopped updating it, and eventually geocities deleted it since it hadn't been updated in ages.  I thought all my essays and links and everything were gone, until I found it on the Wayback Machine and was able to save a copy.  So cool.

The Internet Archive also does all kinds of crazy stuff in addition to the web archive.  They digitize and archive home movies.  They record TV from countries all over the world to have an archive.  They digitize and lend out digital copies of books, the Open Library.  They are, in a word, awesome.

And they do it all from a church in San Francisco.  And we got a personal tour from their founder, Brewster Kahle.  The main offices are in the basement; the Sunday School room.  They have people scanning books in a separate scanning facility.  They have DVR's recording TV from all around the world.  

But the coolest part of the Internet Archive is the sanctuary.  It's huge and could easily hold a couple hundred people.  Every Friday they have a free lunch where anybody can just go in and learn about what they do.   And when you work with the Internet Archive for three years, they make a statue of you, that sits in one of the outer two rows of pews.  It's incredibly freaky, but so awesome, too.

Spot the real humans... there are two of them in this picture.

If you live in San Francisco, you should totally go to the Internet Archive some random Friday to meet them and see the awesomeness that they create.