“There are others (archives of the Web), but the Wayback Machine is so much bigger than all of them that it’s very nearly true that if it’s not in the Wayback Machine it doesn’t exist.”
–Jill Lepore, from “The Cobweb–Can the Internet be archived?” in the New Yorker
The Wayback Machine, a service used by millions to access 19 years of the Web’s history, is about get an update. When completed in 2017, the next generation Wayback Machine will have more and better webpages that are easier to find. The Internet Archive, with generous support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), is re-building the Wayback Machine which currently offers access to 439+ billion Web captures including Web pages, video and images.
Today, people’s work, and to some extent their lives, are conducted and shared largely online. That means a portion of the world’s cultural heritage now resides only on the Web. And we estimate the average life of a Web page is only one hundred days before it is either altered or deleted. “The Internet Archive is helping to preserve the world’s digital history in a transformational way,” said Kelli Rhee, LJAF Vice President of Venture Development. “Taking the Wayback Machine to the next level will make the entire Web more reliable, transparent and accessible for everyone.”
Project goals include:
– Highlighting the provenance of pages found in the Wayback Machine. Hundreds of organizations and individuals participate in building web collections at the Internet Archive. Patrons will be able to see the partner that selected websites or webpages for collection by the Internet Archive.
– Rewriting the Wayback Machine code. This will enable us to improve reliability and functionality.
– Optimizing the scope and quality of pages we crawl. We now capture about 1 billion pages per week. This project will help us improve what we capture.
– Improving the playback of media-rich and interactive websites. Supporting new formats while maintaining older ones is a key challenge for keeping as many webpages visible as possible.
– Updating the user interface. Making it easier for patrons to discover archived websites and learn from our digital history.
– Finding websites based on keywords. While indexing all of the pages in the Wayback Machine is beyond what we can do, we will index homepages of websites so that patrons won’t have to enter specific URLs to dive into the Wayback Machine.
– Partnering with other services to repair broken links by pointing to the Wayback Machine. For example, we are working with the Wikimedia Foundation to identify broken links in Wikipedia sites and replacing them with links to archived pages from the Wayback Machine.