Category Archives: News

Brave Browser and the Wayback Machine: Working together to help make the Web more useful and reliable

The Web just got a little bit more reliable.

Available today, starting with version 1.4 of its desktop browser, Brave has added a 404 detection system, with an automated Wayback Machine lookup process to its desktop browser.

By default, it now offers users one-click access to archived versions of Web pages that might otherwise not be available. Specifically we are checking for 14 HTTP error codes in addition to the 404 (page not found) condition, including: 408, 410, 451, 500, 502, 503, 504, 509, 520, 521, 523, 524, 525, and 526. 

The Web is fragile. Just as nations rise and fall, so do the Websites of your favorite news orgs, brands, companies, governments, etc. Web pages are edited and pages are taken down. Studies suggest the average life expectancy of a single Web page is anywhere from 44 – 100 days. We’ve all hit the dreaded error code 404 “Page Not Found”. Is there any hope of seeing that Web page ever again?

If you are a Brave desktop browser user, the answer is now just a click away. But first – you have to update your browser. Then see the benefits of this new feature in action by clicking on this URL.

For the past 23 years the Wayback Machine has archived more than 900 billion URLs, and more than 400 billion Web pages, and adds many hundred million more archived URLs each day. As such there is a good chance archived versions of “missing” pages you are looking for are available.

This is not the first time the Internet Archive has partnered with Brave. In 2017 we announced our support of their micropayments system and then last year we shared an update about that effort. We appreciate how Brave continues to innovate and deliver new value and services through their browser.

We are grateful for their commitment to user privacy, helping advance alternatives to the current ad-supported Web, and focusing on improving the overall Web browsing experience. We applaud Brave’s leadership in these efforts and look forward to working with them on other ways to help make the Web more useful and reliable.

While native Wayback Machine 404 support is only available via the Brave desktop browser, various Wayback Machine functionality, including 404 detection and archived URL playback, is available via browser extensions for SafariChrome and Firefox.

If you have ideas about how we can improve the Wayback Machine please share them with us via email to info@archive.org  Many of the recent features we have added are the result of suggestions from users of the service and we appreciate all feedback. Together we can help make the Web more useful and reliable.

The Books Beloved by David Bowie

David Bowie (1947-2016) left behind more than 40 albums, 40+ films, and a list of his 100 favorite books.

Restlessly creative, in a constant state of reinvention, artist David Bowie defies simple labels. As a musician, actor, painter and composer, his influence spans decades and continents. But how did young David Robert Jones from Brixton, South London become the force behind Ziggy Stardust, plastic soul and glam rock?

He read. Voraciously.

It’s easy to chart the androgynous Ziggy Stardust to Bowie’s well-worn copy of “The Life and Times of Little Richard.” From mythical heroes in Homer’s Iliad to the Beat icons in Jack Keroac’s On the Road, David Bowie’s favorite protagonists are as eclectic as his public personae. He was drawn to counter culture writers such as William Burroughs, at one point emulating Burroughs method of “cutting up” words and fashioning them randomly into lyrics. Bowie composed 2/3rd of a rock opera based on George Orwell’s 1984, only to discover he could not secure the rights to the dystopian novel. He loved the poetry of T.S. Elliot and the Pop Art-influenced graphic design of Tadanori Yokoo


From the monograph “Tadanori Yokoo.”

Thankfully, in 2013, David Bowie published a list of his 100 favorite reads. (Republished here on the DavidBowie.com site, now only accessible through the Wayback Machine.) We are happy to share them with you in this Internet Archive Collection “David Bowie’s Favorite Books”–84 of which are readily available for free through the Internet Archive.

  1. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
  2. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
  3. Room At The Top by John Braine
  4. On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
  5. Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
  6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  7. City Of Night by John Rechy
  8. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  10. Iliad by Homer
  11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  12. Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
  13. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
  14. Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
  15. Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
  16. Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
  17. David Bomberg by Richard Cork
  18. Blast by Wyndham Lewis
  19. Passing by Nella Larson
  20. Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
  21. The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
  22. In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
  23. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
  24. The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
  25. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  26. Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
  27. The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
  28. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
  29. Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
  30. The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  31. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  32. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  33. Herzog by Saul Bellow
  34. Puckoon by Spike Milligan
  35. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  36. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  37. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
  38. Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
  39. The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
  40. McTeague by Frank Norris
  41. Money by Martin Amis
  42. The Outsider by Colin Wilson
  43. Strange People by Frank Edwards
  44. English Journey by J.B. Priestley
  45. A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  46. The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
  47. 1984 by George Orwell
  48. The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
  49. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
  50. Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
  51. Beano (comic, ’50s)
  52. Raw (comic, ’80s)
  53. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  54. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
  55. Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
  56. Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
  57. The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
  58. Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
  59. The Street by Ann Petry
  60. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
  61. Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
  62. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
  63. The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
  64. Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
  65. The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
  66. The Bridge by Hart Crane
  67. All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
  68. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
  69. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
  70. The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
  71. Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
  72. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
  73. Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
  74. Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
  75. Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
  76. The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
  77. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  78. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  79. Teenage by Jon Savage
  80. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
  81. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
  82. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  83. Viz (comic, early ’80s)
  84. Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
  85. Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
  86. The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
  87. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
  88. Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont
  89. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  90. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler
  91. Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  92. Transcendental Magic, Its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
  93. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
  94. The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
  95. Inferno by Dante Alighieri
  96. A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
  97. The Insult by Rupert Thomson
  98. In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
  99. A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
  100. Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg
Trace the literary influences of one of the 20th Century’s greatest artists, in this collection of David Bowie’s Favorite Books.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Thank you to the scores of libraries around the world who donate their extra copies to be preserved and scanned by the Internet Archive.

This article would not be possible without the dedicated work of engineers, librarians, collections staff and the Open Library community! Thank you to Mek Karpeles, Andrea Mills, Brittany Bunk, Drini Cami and Jeff Kaplan for making the David Bowie Favorite Books collection possible.

To support our work please DONATE HERE. Or SPONSOR A BOOK at our site for readers, Open Library.

Love Zombies? Thank the Public Domain

With more than 3.1 million views to date, “Night of the Living Dead” is among the most popular feature films on the Internet Archive. The 1968 movie is also generally acknowledged as one of the landmark films of the horror genre, as well as the work that single handedly created the modern conception of the zombie. But none of that would have been possible without a mistake—one that landed the film firmly in the public domain.

Legends about zombies date back to 19th-century Haitian folklore, and originally featured corpses (or even living people) that were enslaved by powerful sorcerers. However, George Romero—who co-wrote and directed “Night of the Living Dead”—created something quite different for his film. Romero’s monsters were cannibals who craved human flesh, serving nobody and nothing except their mindless hunger. They were victims of disease, transformed by being bitten, whose sudden appearance caused entire societies to collapse. In fact, these creatures were so unique that the movie never even called them “zombies”—Romero referred to his creations as “ghouls.”

At one point, this innovative work-in-progress with its innovative monsters was called “Night of the Flesh Eaters,” but the production company decided to change the title to avoid confusion with a preexisting film. The title card was switched to rename the film “Night of the Living Dead,” accidentally omitting the copyright symbol in the process. Under US intellectual property law at the time, the film immediately entered the public domain. Not only could the film be legally copied, shared, and redistributed—which led to its rapid dissemination through American pop culture—but anybody was free to adapt, change, or borrow from it.

What followed was not only a revolution within the horror genre, but an explosion of zombie-related content. “Night of the Living Dead” spawned nine direct sequels and several unofficial ones, as well as hundreds of works taking advantage of an uncopyrighted new monster. Works ranging from “The Walking Dead” to “World War Z,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to “Game of Thrones,” or “Resident Evil” to “Shaun of the Dead” all rely on Romero-type zombies or their derivatives.

Zombies dominate pop culture like few monsters have before or since, in large part because artists and authors can reuse, remix, or adapt them without fear. Night of the Living Dead is a shining example of what happens when quality works come into the public domain, joining the marketplace of ideas. If you want to watch this cinematic masterpiece for yourself, download or stream it here!

Our Social Media is Broken. Is Decentralization the Fix?

When Jack Dorsey, founder of the very centralized social media platform, Twitter, posted this message about decentralized social media, our DWeb community took note:

Dorsey went on to enumerate the current problems with social media: misinformation and abuse; opaque, proprietary algorithms that dictate what you see and hear; and financial incentives that elevate “controversy and outrage” rather than “conversation that informs and promotes health.”  But Twitter’s co-founder and CEO also sees promising new solutions:

We agree. Much work has been done and some of the fundamentals are in place. So on January 21, 2020 the Internet Archive hosted “Exploring Decentralized Social Media,” a DWeb SF Meetup that attracted 120+ decentralized tech builders, founders, and those who just wanted to learn more. Decentralized social media app builders from London, Portland and San Francisco took us on a tour of where their projects are today.

WATCH PRESENTATIONS HERE:

Developer and writer, Jay Graber, explained the state-of-the-art in Peer-to-Peer, Federated and blockchain related social media.

The evening began with a survey of the decentralized social media landscape by researcher and Happening.net developer, Jay Graber. (See her two excellent Medium articles on the subject.) Graber helped us understand the broad categories of what’s out there: federated protocols such as ActivityPub and Matrix; peer-to-peer protocols such as Scuttlebutt, and social media apps that utilize blockchain in some way for  monetization, provenance or storage. What was clear from Graber’s talk was that she had tested and used dozens of tools, from Mastodon to Iris, Martti Malmi’s new P-2-P social app and she deftly laid out the pros and cons of each.

What followed were talks by the founders and developers from each of Graber’s categories:

Evan Henshaw-Plath (aka Rabble) was one of the earliest engineers at Twitter. He’s bringing years of startup experience to Planetary.social, his new P-2-P mobile version of Facebook.

Evan Henshaw-Plath, an original Odeo/Twitter engineer, is the founder of Planetary.social, a P-2-P mobile app that’s “an open, humane Facebook alternative” built atop Scuttlebutt. His goal with Planetary is to make an app reflecting the values of the commons, but that feels as seamless and familiar as the social apps we already use.

Flying in from London, Matthew Hodgson, founder of Matrix.org, brought us up-to-date with his open network for fully encrypted, real-time communication. With an impressive 13.5 million account holders, including the governments of France and Germany, Matrix is showing hockey-stick-like growth. But Matrix’s greatest challenge: in an encrypted, decentralized system, how do you filter out the bad stuff? By using “decentralized reputation,” Hodgson explained, allowing users to moderate what they are willing to see. Hodgson also revealed he’s building an experimental P-2-P Matrix in 2020.

With fuller control over one’s social streams comes greater responsibility. Matrix founder, Matthew Hodgson explains how each user can subscribe to trusted blacklists and eventually “greylists” of questionable content and block it.
Today’s social media walled gardens are not that different from America’s phone companies in 1900, explained tech executive, John Ryan. We are in the early days of integration.

Thought leader and tech executive, John Ryan, provided valuable historical context both onstage and in his recent blog. He compared today’s social media platforms to telephone services in 1900. Back then, a Bell Telephone user couldn’t talk to an AT&T customer; businesses had to have multiple phone lines just to converse with their clients. It’s not that different today, Ryan asserts, when Facebook members can’t share their photos with Renren’s 150 million account holders. All of these walled gardens, he said, need a “trusted intermediary” layer to become fully interconnected.

Twitter CTO, Parag Agrawal, has been tasked with bootstrapping a new team of decentralized builders called “Bluesky.”

Next  CTO, Parag Agrawal, outlined Twitter’s goals and the problems all social media platforms face. “Decentralization to us is not an end, it’s a means to an end,” he explained. “We have a hypothesis on how it can help solve these problems.” Agrawal says Twitter will be bootstrapping a team they call “bluesky,” who will not be Twitter employees, but independent. “Twitter will have very little control (over bluesky) other than our bootstrapping efforts,” he laid out.


Next up was Burak Nehbit, founder of Aether, something akin to a peer-to-peer Reddit. But here’s Aether’s secret sauce: expert moderation, with 100% transparency and communities who elect their own moderators. Aether is focused on “high quality conversations” and those users willing to roll up their sleeves and moderate them.

Aether’s founder, Burak Nehbit, is creating a P-2-P social media platform of highly curated, self-governed content, where elected moderators ensure “high quality” conversations.

And rounding out the evening was Edward West, founder of Hylo.com, an app that combines group management, messaging and collaboration built on holochainRecently Holo acquired the Hylo software and Holo’s Director of Communications Jarod Holtz explained why this union is significant for decentralized builders, including the Terran Collective‘s Aaron Brodeur and Clare Politano, who will be stewarding the Hylo project: 

Edward West of Hylo, Aaron Brodeur, Jarod Holtz and Clare Politano are joining forces as Hylo.com is acquired by Holo and “stewarded” by the Terran Collective.

From both a design and an engineering perspective, the way Hylo is structured makes it perfectly suited to being converted to run in the future as a decentralized application on Holochain. The Hylo code base will be instrumental in helping us demonstrate how a centralised app can be transformed into a distributed app.

Blockchain based social media solutions, including Bevan Barton’s Peepeth built on Ethereum and Emre Sokullu of Pho Networks, gave overviews of their work at lightning speed. After the Meetup, Sokullu penned this article explaining how Pho can serve as a programming language to build decentralized applications. 

From federated to blockchain and gradations in between, decentralized social media is taking flight.  And on one winter night in San Francisco, builders of wildly diverse projects came together at the Internet Archive to demonstrate how far they’ve come—and the long road ahead.


From Our Community, With Love

Our 2019 End-of-Year fundraising drive was a big success, raising more than $6 million in individual donations and matched contributions! Just as wonderful, though, was the outpouring of encouragement we received from the thousands of you who contributed. We asked you why you choose to give and here are a few of our favorite replies:

I have been relying on your services for, I think, as long as I have been on the internet. I am 28 and first used the internet when I was 7. I love you.  —Joseph J.

Thank you for preserving that stuff that people think is always going to be there, but isn’t.   —Teresa R.

The powers that shouldn’t be are censoring our luminaries and truth tellers and throttling our right to free intelligent debate… you may be the last remaining vestige of open source knowledge in our near future and you MUST survive!    —Zandra W.

I donated to find new homes for old things          —Theo A.

I’ve been looking for early photoplay magazines for about 50 years, primarily for one set of articles on the beginning of the motion picture, part of which started in my hometown….. still need to find the specific article, but now I know I can find, and even copy it here!!! Great! Thank you so much for your wonderful efforts.  Only wish I could give more!!      —John P.

I appreciate what you’ve done for vintage computing.  —Norman D.

It’s an important resource for all to use. I refer to the Wayback Machine often to show changing sites over time, and sometimes to reconstruct a hacked site! I like watching the videos (Prelinger Archives) on my spare time. Thx!    —Kristin P.

I keep finding gold here!         —Ryan N.

I have loved libraries since I was five years old and have been a librarian for 44 years. If I can help even a little in keeping the Internet Archive going, I am happy to do so.  —Bruce B.

y’all doing gods work      —Bryn D.

This amazing public service you provide must live on!       —Michael N.

Reading is IMPORTANT!       —Sharon G.

I do a lot of research on safety of refrigeration systems. The big companies manufacturing synthetic refrigerants do systematically put data to the public that is obfuscating objective risk assessments. By the Wayback Machine I was able to get important data that was already deleted from the original websites.       —Thore O.

I rely on the Internet Archive to look back at the web as I experienced it when I was young, for my work, and just to satisfy general curiosity. I couldn’t imagine a world without it.         —Paul H.

I LOVE READING and while I prefer books, my home no longer has book space…..So many lovers on the shelves. You are providing the opportunity for us to access many writers’ ideas which are no longer available to us at large. Thanks for honoring them.        —Barbara G.

Because we all need this.         —Alessandro T.

(Some comments have been edited for length and clarity.)

From the whole team here at the Internet Archive, we’re grateful from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t do this work without your generosity. Thank you for helping us provide universal access to all knowledge—and here’s to a great 2020!

If you’d like to join the many Internet Archive and Open Library supporters who keep us going, we invite you to chip in! Every bit helps in our mission to provide universal access to knowledge.

DONATE

Public Domain Day — January 30, 2020 in Washington DC

Please join us on January 30, 2020 for an evening celebration of the public domain! Presented by Internet Archive, Institute for Intellectual Property & Social Justice, Creative Commons, the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, and SPARC, this event will bring together a diverse group of organizations, musicians, artists, activists, and thinkers to highlight the new works entering the public domain for the first time and discuss those elements of knowledge and creativity that are too important to a healthy society to lock down with copyright law. This celebration will take place at American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. from 5:30pm-8:30pm ET. For those that can’t physically attend the event, there will also be a live stream of the afternoon programming beginning at 6:30pm Eastern Time. 

The public domain is our shared cultural heritage, a near limitless trove of creativity that’s been reused, remixed, and reimagined over centuries to create new works of art and science. The public domain forms the building blocks of culture because these works are not restricted by copyright law. Generally, works come into the public domain when their copyright term expires. This year, works first published in 1924 including such favorites as “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin, the Dia de los Muertos Mural by Diego Rivera, and “The Man in the Brown Suit” by Agatha Christie, entered the public domain for all to share.

Join creative, legal, library, and advocacy communities to celebrate the public domain and our shared cultural heritage, and come network with an amazing lineup of people and organizations who will help us welcome a new class of public domain works. 

RSVP now 

Agenda

5:15 PM         Registration opens

5:30 PM    Public Interest Organization Showcase and Reception with live jazz by the Bob Schwartz Quartet

6:30 PM     Welcome Talk: Realizing Access to the Public Domain featuring Brewster Kahle

6:50 PM    Panel: Remixing the Public Domain – discussion with remix artists moderated by Kim Tignor

7:10 PM     Presentations and Lightning Talks featuring Peter Jazsi, Julia Reda, Leslie Street, Amanda Levendowsi, Jonathan Band, and Mike Carroll

8:30 PM     Reception with live jazz

The Lost Landscapes of San Francisco: A Benefit for the Internet Archive — Friday, January 24th

COMBINING a year of exciting archival discoveries with evergreen favorites from past years, this feature-length program shows San Francisco’s people, neighborhoods, infrastructures and celebrations from the early 20th century through the 1980s. New sequences this year run the gamut from the noirish streets of downtown San Francisco in the 1940s to life in the lively Mission, Richmond, Sunset, Bernal Heights and Ingleside Terrace districts.

ALSO IN THE WORKS: Bits of San Francisco bohemia, psychedelia and punk; newly discovered footage of the late, lamented Sky Tram and the unlamented Bayside Motel and Embarcadero Freeway; workers horsing around on the Rainier Beer loading dock in 1937; transit infrastructure; snowball fights; a hobo by the zoo; newly discovered amateur Cinemascope footage from the 1950s; the building of I-280; San Francisco’s publicly owned electrical generation system; San Francisco’s cemeteries emptied of their dead; and many intimate glimpses of family life in Latinx, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, African American, and European communities in San Francisco.

AS ALWAYS, the audience makes the soundtrack! Come prepared to identify places, people and events, to ask questions and to engage in spirited real-time repartee with fellow audience members

RSVP HERE

Doors Open and Reception Starts: 6:30pm
Show Begins: 7:30pm

No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Libraries and Publishing Now– Viva la Library!

Readers consume publisher’s products many hours every day– and consume on publisher’s terms. Publisher’s framing on our screens, publisher’s business models, publisher’s flow and pacing. Yes, there are many publishers now, but we are, mostly, locked into their presentation forms. We check into their black box theaters and consume as intended.

Libraries have always bought publisher’s products but have traditionally offered alternative access modes to these materials, and can again. As an example let’s take newspapers. Published with scoops and urgency, yesterday is “old news,” the paper it was printed on is then only useful the next day as “fish wrap”– the paper piles up and we felt guilty about the trash. That is the framing of the publisher: old is useless, new is valuable. This has carried into social media– flip up to read on. Scroll through your “feed” (gosh, the word “feed” is illustrative, what happens after “feed” is “fed”?  Well, it comes out the other end in a way we do not cherish 🙂 ).

But a library gives old news a new life, not a commercial life, but a life that encourages reflection, perspective, critique, analysis. In a word– “History”. The library keeps the former “news” and offers it in new ways in a new framing, with new tools– not just flip flip flip. It can be quoted, placed side by side with other publisher’s news and enable researchers to inject commentary.

This capture, representation, searching, rethinking is not a crime– it is thought, it is memory and our history– it builds to become our culture. It has been supported, nurtured, taught.

But the library is in danger in our digital world. In print, one could keep what one had read. In digital that is harder technically, and publishers are specifically making it harder. Technical enforcement measures and laws are making remembering difficult, and worse, a crime.

Libraries live to offer new ways to see published works that were often produced for a different purpose. But this is difficult in a digital world.

Digital newspapers sometimes disappear from their web presence. App-based newspapers can not be pointed to with a citation or URL. Archives, sometimes available, are segmented into each publisher’s platforms.

Similarly, digital books live in proprietary digital book readers that disappear the books. If “cut and paste” functions at all, often just inside that “platform.” Annotations are stored with the vendor, with their terms and conditions.

A personal library now means a purchase list on a website.

Libraries and publishers have lived together throughout the paper era, not always peacefully, but libraries were possible because of paper technologies, laws, and funding. Multiple copies were kept in different libraries ensuring preservation and creating different access modes for different communities.

Once publications became electronic, preservation and access became harder. Radio and television did not fit into the library mold. Early tele-text, Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, and AOL really did not work as library collections in traditional libraries. Academic journal publishing shifted to digital and libraries moved to serve as customer service departments for leased database access.

Some of us helped build the Internet so digital works could be archived and “libraried”. And then made archives of Web pages and created services around them.

But it turns out that few of us did this, and the biggest, Google, did it privately and for profit.  The Internet Archive was created to help and has archived billions of Web Pages, millions of hours of TV and radio, millions of books, records, movies and software.

Most traditional libraries have done little to preserve digital materials. The Internet Archive is quite unique in focusing on this mission and I would say under supported. Encouraging, however, is that 100,000 individuals a year now donate to support the Internet Archive’s public services. Hope is there.

We need libraries of digital materials, tools to use these libraries, and ways to protect them, fund them and integrate them into schools and our lives more generally. This way we can remember, think, and build on the past.

With so much in digital form, and storage and communication so easy, it should be the librarian’s day!  It can be the library user’s day…

Let’s build that world… of preservation and access, of reflection and critique, with confidence that what happened actually happened so that our histories can rely on immutable evidence.

Libraries do not command the world, but libraries are necessary in the functioning of a thoughtful world.

Thank you for supporting the Internet Archive.

Viva la Library!

Lawrence Lessig: Being a Citizen is a Public Office, too

In his latest book, Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig, issues a call to arms to fix our broken body politic–starting with “us.”

Why, you might wonder, is a famous Harvard Law professor and the founder of Creative Commons writing a book to wake us up to the fundamental problem facing our republic?

The simple answer:  Aaron Swartz.

Swartz, the free culture activist, and Lawrence Lessig were friends and collaborators. As Lessig recounted here in February, one day, Swartz came to visit him, challenging Lessig to combat the basic corruption of our political process. “But Aaron, it’s not my field, corruption. My field is internet, culture and copyright,” Lessig protested. Swartz countered, “As an academic? What about as a citizen?”

Photos by Patrick T. Power

That was in 2006. Thirteen years later on on a drizzly December night in San Francisco, Lawrence Lessig came to the Internet Archive where Swartz once worked, to frame the core flaw in our republic in a new way. It forms the central argument of Lessig’s latest book, They Don’t Represent Us. The “they” is of course our Congress—who aren’t representing our interests. “And Us. We the People. We don’t represent us,” he said to an audience of 300 listeners. 

Lessig began with a lesson in historical time. In Silicon Valley time, 20 years is an epoch—the Googlian Era one might call it. But in government, Lessig contrasted, 20 years can add up to nothing. Twenty years ago, he noted, climate change was acknowledged to be man-made and real; the Clinton administration proposed affordable health care; the mass shooters at Columbine killed 13 people. And two decades later, our government has passed not a single law that comprehensively addresses climate change, universal health care or gun control.  

Why? Because our elected representatives aren’t representing us. With the precision of a surgeon, Lessig took the stage to perform an autopsy on our body politic. Our diseases are well known: gerrymandering that empowers the political extremes, campaign funding that empowers the wealthy, the media that feeds us whatever sells best.

18 years ago, Lessig helped found the Creative Commons, a fundamental tool in making some creative works available for reuse—a foundation upon which of Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive is built.

And yet, Larry Lessig says he is hopeful. “You know my brand.  My brand is pessimism. But I am optimistic.” In the coming election year, he reminds us that “being a citizen is a public office.” Even though the election will most likely be a “dumpster fire,” he told me, “We must steer the conversation beyond 2020, to more fundamental issues.” 

Lessig’s critique stands above party or personality. He urges us to challenge every candidate, blue or red, by saying:  “Tell me how you are going to fix this problem first, this corrupt system, first,” he said “If we are going to fix anything else, we have to take up that fight.”

To get involved, visit https://equalcitizens.us/

Read the New York Times review of “They Don’t Represent Us” here.

I’m Done Selling Sweaters. Instead I’m Selling a Vision I Believe In.

Jenica Jessen, Email Campaign Specialist at the the Internet Archive
Jenica Jessen, Email Campaign Specialist at the the Internet Archive

Eight months ago, I was miserable.

On paper, it seemed like everything should be going right. I was working long hours at a promising startup in a rapidly growing industry. My job was to use cutting-edge digital marketing technology to optimize email content; I worked to find the most compelling language possible, to tap into the phrasing and rhetoric that would inspire people and drive them to action. I was learning the craft of perfect subject lines and clickable links, honing my skill set, polishing my resume.

And I hated it.

My emails went to tens of millions of people, but I wasn’t really communicating with any of them. My carefully-tested copy drove thousands upon thousands of purchases, but I wanted to care about something more than some corporation’s bottom line. I was working with some of the most advanced communications tools in the world—and I was using them to sell sweaters.

That wasn’t me.

Let’s go back a decade or so. The high school I attended wasn’t especially distinguished. Our football team was mediocre; our debate team didn’t win championships. The one thing that Riverton High was good at—the thing that made us unique—was Silver Rush.

Riverton High School students caroling in 2010 (courtesy of Jenica’s yearbook).

Silver Rush was our annual holiday fundraiser. (The name was a play on “gold rush;” our mascot was the silverwolf.) Every year, we would pick a charity that helped underserved members of our community: newly-arrived refugees, homeless teens, domestic violence victims. The whole month of December was dedicated to raising money for them. And at that, we excelled.

The great thing about Silver Rush was that it brought the whole school together, and everyone found ways to help out. The choir had a benefit concert. The food science class sold baked goods. The track team did a “fun” run in 20-degree weather. I shoveled snow in exchange for donations, and sang holiday songs outside the local grocery store, and gathered spare change. There were so many events and volunteer opportunities that most nights, I didn’t get home until 8 or 9 PM (and that was before homework). For me and my classmates, the whole month of December dissolved into a cocoa-fueled haze of sleep deprivation, caroling, and the camaraderie that comes from advancing a good cause.

A lot of other schools in the area tried to emulate Silver Rush. Our biggest rival, Bingham High, had a perennial goal of raising more money than we did. But the attempts to create a rivalry missed the point entirely, because the thing that made Silver Rush great was that we weren’t competing with anybody.

Our slogan was “It’s not about the dollars, it’s about the change.” Everyone took it to heart—and the first proof was that nobody knew how much we’d raised until after the fundraiser was over. We weren’t trying to show off; we weren’t trying to prove anything; we were trying to make the world a better place. My senior year we set a new record, raising over $129,000 for children who needed wheelchairs.

A Riverton High School student seeing the final amount Silver Rush raised in 2012.

But it wasn’t the numbers that made Silver Rush the highlight of my high school years. It was the feeling of making a difference.

So by the time 2019 rolled around, as I was working for that digital marketing firm, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d lost my way somehow. I was creating campaigns that earned millions of dollars at a time, but each big win felt a little empty. I couldn’t shake the sense that there was more that I could—should—be doing to give back to society. And I was so sick of writing subject lines about sweaters.

So seven months ago, I applied for a job at the Internet Archive.

What I found at the Archive was something radically different from the world of marketing startups. It was a team with a vision—not of venture capital funding and IPOs, but of a great library for all. It was work with a purpose—not synergy or hypergrowth, but preservation, education, accurate information. And it was an organization that survived not on e-commerce but on people’s goodwill—the dedication of countless volunteers, archivists, librarians, and programmers, as well as thousands of donors big and small.

December at the Internet Archive is a busy time. We launch our end-of-year fundraising drive right around Thanksgiving, and chaos ensues. Everyone is scrambling to make sure that our donation systems work and our banners are up to date, that the letters are sent and the events are organized, that the checks are counted and the newsletter goes out on time. The days are a haze of coding, camaraderie, and—yes—sleep deprivation. This month, I’ve been working long hours; I’ve been trying to craft perfect subject lines; I’ve been looking for ways to inspire people and drive them to action. And I couldn’t be happier.

Just a few of the Internet Archive team members who’ve pitched in to help with fundraising this year.

If you’ve seen an Internet Archive email in your inbox lately—a newsletter or an event announcement or a donation request—I’m the one who put it there. I’m done selling sweaters. I’m selling a vision instead.

It’s a vision of a world without disinformation, a world where verifiable facts are just a click away. It’s a vision of a great library for all, where the best that humanity has ever produced is freely available. It’s a vision of universal access to all knowledge.

So far this year, thousands of people have joined in supporting that vision, chipping in a few dollars to keep the servers running and the lights on. And it’s a privilege to read your comments, and hear your stories, and see the direct impact that your support has on the mission of the Archive.

My favorite moment, so far, came near at the beginning of our fundraising drive, when I happened to check the donations tally. The number is constantly changing, but for one brief moment, I saw it hit exactly $129,000. The same amount we raised for Silver Rush during my senior year of high school.

And for that moment, it felt like the entire world had lined up just right—like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.


If you’d like to contribute to the Internet Archive, please visit archive.org/donate. You can also show your support by getting the word out on social media or telling your friends and family about our work. We’re grateful for everyone in our community—we couldn’t do it without you.