Internet Archive, Code for Science and Society, and California Digital Library to Partner on a Data Sharing and Preservation Pilot Project

Research and cultural heritage institutions are facing increasing costs to provide long-term public access to historically valuable collections of scientific data, born-digital records, and other digital artifacts. With many institutions moving data to cloud services, data sharing and access costs have become more complex. As leading institutions in decentralization and data preservation, the Internet Archive (IA), Code for Science & Society (CSS) and California Digital Library (CDL) will work together on a proof-of-concept pilot project to demonstrate how decentralized technology could bolster existing institutional infrastructure and provide new tools for efficient data management and preservation. Using the Dat Protocol (developed by CSS), this project aims to test the feasibility of a decentralized network as a new option for organizations to archive and monitor their digital assets.

Dat is already being used by diverse communities, including researchers, developers, and data managers. California Digital Library is building innovative tools for data publication and digital preservation. The Internet Archive is leading efforts to advance the decentralized web community. This joint project will explore the issues that emerge from collecting institutions adopting decentralized technology for storage and preservation activities. The pilot will feature a defined corpus of open data from CDL’s data sharing service. The project aims to demonstrate how members of a cooperative, decentralized network can leverage shared services to ensure data preservation while reducing storage costs and increasing replication counts. By working with the Dat Protocol, the pilot will maximize openness, interoperability, and community input. Linking institutions via cooperative, distributed data sharing networks has the potential to achieve efficiencies of scale not possible through centralized or commercial services. The partners intend to openly share the outcomes of this proof-of-concept work to inform further community efforts to build on this potential.

Want to learn more? Representatives of this project will be at FORCE 2018, Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, Open Repositories, DLF Forum, and the Decentralized Web Summit.

More about CSS: Code for Science & Society is a nonprofit organization committed to building public interest technology and low-cost decentralized tools with the Dat Project to help people share and preserve versioned digital information. Read more about CSS’ Dat in the Lab project, our recent Community Call, and other activities. (Contact: Danielle Robinson)

More about CDL UC3: The University of California Curation Center (UC3) at the California Digital Library (CDL) provides innovative data curation and digital preservation services to the 10-campus University of California system and the wider scholarly and cultural heritage communities. https://uc3.cdlib.org/. (Contact: John Chodacki)

More about IA: The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the mission to provide “universal access to all knowledge.” It works with hundreds of national and international partners providing web, data, and preservation services and maintains an online library comprising millions of freely-accessible books, films, audio, television broadcasts, software, and hundreds of billions of archived websites. https://archive.org/. (Contact: Jefferson Bailey)

Posted in Announcements, News | Tagged , | Comments Off on Internet Archive, Code for Science and Society, and California Digital Library to Partner on a Data Sharing and Preservation Pilot Project

The Lost Landscapes of New York: A Benefit for the Internet Archive — Friday, June 15

by Rick Prelinger

Since 2006, film historian and archivist Rick Prelinger has presented twenty participatory urban history events to enthusiastic audiences in San Francisco, Detroit, Los Angeles, Oakland, and at festivals throughout the world. Now, for the first time, LOST LANDSCAPES visits New York City.

Get Tickets Here

The 83-minute program, which is filled with rare and stunning views of the city shot on 35mm, 16mm, and 8mm film mixes home movies by New Yorkers, tourists, and semi-professional cinematographers with outtakes from feature films and background “process plates” picturing granular details of New York’s cityscape. The combination of intimate moments, memories from many New York neighborhoods, and a variety of rare cinematic perspectives forms a 21st-century city symphony whose soundtrack will be provided by the audience. Viewers will be invited to comment, to ask questions and to interact with one another as the screening unfolds.

Lost Landscapes of New York spans much of the twentieth century, covering daily life, work, celebration, social change, and the city’s changing streetscapes. Almost all of the footage in the film has never been shown publicly. Highlights include: the streets and people of the Lower East Side, Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens; a 1930s train ride from the Bronx to Grand Central; a visit to pre-demolition Penn Station; street photographers in Times Square; 1931 Times Square scenes in color; Spanish Harlem in the 1960s; housing shortages and civil rights protests in 1940s Harlem; Manhattan’s exuberant neon signage; elevated trains in the 1920s and 1930s; garment strikes in the 1930s; Depression-era hoboes and “Hoovervilles”; crowds at Coney Island in the 1920s; “cutting the rug” at the 1939 New York World’s Fair; Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia reading the comics over the radio during the 1945 newspaper strike; the lost Third Avenue “El”; and much, much more.

“Like an archaeologist, Mr. Prelinger has uncovered…different New Yorks — layer upon layer — and put them together for a singular, complex film experience. It’s an ideal project for this collector extraordinaire, who is one of the great, undersung historians of 20th century cinema.” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times)

Friday, June 15
Doors Open and Reception Starts: 6:30pm
Show Begins: 7:30pm

Tickets: $10-$25 suggested sliding scale,
but no one turned away for lack of funds.

Internet Archive
300 Funston Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118

Get Tickets Here

Posted in Announcements, Event, News, Past Event | 4 Comments

The ACCESS to Recordings Act is the Right Way to Fix Music Copyright

Senator Wyden (D-OR) has introduced a common sense bill to fix a bad mistake made by Congress in the 1970s as an alternative to the bad bill Congress is currently considering. The Accessibility for Curators, Creators, Educators, Scholars, and Society (ACCESS) to Recordings Act would extend full federal copyright to sound recordings created before 1972–works that currently only have state law protection.

ACCESS is good for legacy musicians and good for libraries. This bill would help give legal certainty to library activities such as our Great 78 Project that seeks to preserve and give access to the millions of songs recorded on 78rpm discs from approximately 1900-1950. Many of these important cultural works are not commercially viable, and therefore could be lost forever without library intervention. ACCESS supports libraries’ ability to ensure the continued availability of our sound recording heritage.

“Copyright reform for pre-1972 sound recordings must consider the interests of all stakeholders – not just those of the for-profit record labels,” said Senator Wyden. “The ACCESS to Recordings Act, by applying the same term limits and rights and obligations that apply to other copyrighted works, would help preserve our cultural heritage and open up older works to rediscovery by scholars, creators and the public. I have serious concerns about the lengthy terms in current U.S. copyright law that tip the balance toward limiting rather than promoting creativity and innovation, but until Congress is willing to reconsider it, we shouldn’t go beyond those protections and provide unprecedented federal copyright term for sound recordings.”

The Internet Archive joins Public Knowledge, the Library Copyright Alliance and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections in supporting this bill, and urging Congress to pass it.

Posted in Announcements, News | 6 Comments

Internet Archive awarded grant from Arcadia Fund to digitize university press collections

Internet Archive has received a $1 million dollar grant from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin – to digitize titles from university press collections to make them available via controlled digital lending.  The project, Unlocking University Press Books, will bring more than 15,000 titles online from university presses.  This project extends the successful pilot with MIT Press, which has already made more than 400 books available for digital learners around the world.

Today, for many learners, if a book isn’t digital or discoverable through a web search, it’s as if it doesn’t exist. Large-scale digitization projects have brought millions of books online, largely from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but almost a century of knowledge still lives only on the printed page, inaccessible to scholars, journalists and online learners.

To bring important twentieth century scholarship online, the Internet Archive seeks partnerships with university presses to digitize their publications. These materials represent the preeminent scholarly output of research universities, presenting research and analysis of use to policymakers and scholars, and providing materials that help shape and inform a literate culture.

“Every online user should have access to a great digital library,” said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, “We are grateful to Arcadia for their support of this project, which will make the unique research published by university presses available to even wider audiences.”

“We are very excited about this transformational program,” said Dean Smith, Director of Cornell University Press. “We take our mission as the nation’s first university press seriously—to make high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship discoverable and accessible to the world. The Internet Archive is perfectly aligned with that mission and will greatly assist us in taking bold actions to unearth these titles and provide access options.”

To participate in the project, please complete our signup form.  Please contact Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries, at chrisfreeland@archive.org with additional questions.

Posted in Announcements, News | Tagged | 3 Comments

Internet Archive Benefit Concert feat. Moonalice – June 30, 2018

Do you live in the Bay Area and love to groove for a good cause? On Saturday, June 30th the Internet Archive’s very own Jeff Kaplan and his Jefferson Airplane cover band ‘SF Airship Acoustic’ will be playing all the hits at Mill Valley’s Sweetwater Music Hall. Headlining the show is friend-of-the-Archive Roger McNamee’s band Moonalice. All ticket sales benefit the Internet Archive.

For those not able to come, the concert will be broadcasted live on the Moonalice Couch Tour Site and available online shortly after their set!

Benefit for Internet Archive
Featuring Moonalice and SF Airship

June 30, 2018
Sweetwater Music Hall, Mill Valley, CA
Door: 7pm / Show: 8pm
Tickets: $10 advance/$15 day of show
Purchase tickets here

Moonalice is a psychedelic, roots-rock band that plays mostly original material mixed with some covers, drawing from many musical genres honed from years of experience playing with various major acts. For every Moonalice concert, a well-known artist creates an original art poster with a unique Moonalice legend, distributed for free to all attendees. You can check out past Moonalice concert posters here. Moonalice’s digital logs are a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because, in the R&R Hall of Fame’s own words, Moonalice helps “tell the story of music’s digital revolution; specifically the rise of direct-from-artist (DFA) distribution.” Moonalice is the first band without a label to achieve one million downloads of a song from its own servers, direct-from-artist. “It’s 4:20 Somewhere” has been downloaded over two million times.

SF Airship Acoustic is about keeping the legendary sound of Jefferson Airplane alive and thriving. San Francisco Airship brings that wonderful Summer of Love vibe to our time, with classic hits like “White Rabbit”, “Somebody To Love”, “Wooden Ships”, “Volunteers” and many more. Members have performed with Jefferson Starship, Blue Cheer, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Tubes, Big Brother & The Holding Company, New Riders Of The Purple Sage, and more. In the own words, “We grew up with their music, and maybe you did too. But we’ve discovered in performance that it’s relevant even to people who weren’t around for the original band… And, we’re not just performers, we’re fans. So we do our best to honor the spirit of the original music. We’re not trying to duplicate it so much as resurrect it. We’re bringing it back with the full force that only live music can do. We are SF Airship Acoustic. Come along with us.”

Posted in Announcements, News, Past Event | 3 Comments

TV News Record: Six takeaways from adding Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama & more to Face-o-Matic facial detection

A round up on what’s happening at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman.

This week we release new data generated by our Face-o-Matic tool, developed in collaboration with Matroid, adding to our list of public figures detected by facial-recognition on major cable news stations on the  TV News Archive.

In addition to President Donald Trump and the four congressional leaders, the expanded list now includes most former living presidents and recent major party presidential contenders, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (For the full list of public officials tracked, as well as methodical notes, see bottom of the post.)

Detecting faces on TV news and turning them into data provides a new quantitative path for journalists and researchers to explore how news is presented to the public and compare and contrast editorial choices that individual networks make. This new measure shows us the duration that politicians’ faces are actually shown on screen, whether it’s a clip of that person speaking, muted footage, or a still photo shown in the background to illustrate a point.

Adding to the Television Explorer, fueled by closed captions and our Third Eye chyron reading tool, a wealth of information is now available to analyze. (See the TV News Archive home page for examples of visualizations created by journalists and researchers using TV News Archive data.)

Here are six quick takeaways using Face-o-Matic for an analysis covering roughly six months, from November 2017 through May 2018, looking at four cable TV news networks: BBC News, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

Download Face-o-Matic data to explore your own research questions.

1. Trump trumps every other political figure in face-time on cable TV news, all the time, every day, in every way, on every network and program.

As we’ve seen in past analyses with Face-o-Matic data, President Donald Trump is the major political star on cable TV news as compared to other top political figures examined. To put this in perspective: over a six month period stretching from November 2017 to May 2018, the president’s face appeared on TV cable news the equivalent of a full 13.5 days, counting every second of face-time. The next closest political figure we analyzed was House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., whose visage appeared the equivalent of one day.


  1. After Trump, GOP leaders in Congress are the most popular faces on TV cable news.

The two GOP leaders in Congress, Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky. are the next most popular faces on TV news cable news networks. Between the two, Ryan ranks first on the TV news cable networks we examined: BBC News, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.  McConnell is the next most shown face on these networks, with the exception of BBC News.

Link to interactive version of above chart, where view can be changed to exclude specific politicians.

  1. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama figure prominently on Fox News.

Fox News airs proportionately more images of failed presidential candidate 2016 Hillary Clinton and former president Barack Obama than other cable TV news networks. Fox News showed Clinton’s face 7.6 times more than CNN did, and Obama’s 3.6 times more. Fox News also showed Clinton 3.6 times more than MSNBC, and Obama, 2.3 times more.


  1. Hannity shows more Hillary Clinton face-time than any other top-rated Fox News show.

Not only does the Fox News “Hannity” program air more images of Hillary Clinton proportionately than any other top rated Fox News show, with just one exception, it is the Fox News show that shows her face more than current congressional leaders–Ryan, McConnell, Schumer or Pelosi. “Hannity” also shows more images of Obama than other top rated Fox News shows.

Link to interactive version of above chart, where view can be changed to exclude specific politicians.

  1. Ryan face-time spikes on news shows aired during morning hours.

All three U.S. cable news networks examined showed high rates of face-time for Ryan on shows airing during morning hours, ranging from 9 am to 11 am. This may be linked to his leadership role in Congress and that morning hours are prime for large announcements. For example, on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” and “Happening Now” show spikes of face-time for Ryan. On MSNBC, “Live with Hallie Jackson” and “Live with Velshi and Ruhle” show high rates of images for Ryan. And on CNN, “At This Hour with Kate Bolduan” shows high rates of Ryan as well. 

Links to interactive charts for top-rated news shows; view can be adjusted to exclude specific politicians. The source for top-rated shows is shows with 2017 top viewership by Nielsen.

Top-rated Fox News shows.

Top-rated MSNBC news shows.

Top-rated CNN shows.

  1. BBC News just isn’t that into us.

BBC News provides a window into how news is presented to a major foreign audience. Like U.S. cable news networks, BBC News features more face-time for Trump than other political figures examined. Ryan ranks a distant second. Overall, BBC News, however, shows much lower rates of images of U.S. political figures than U.S. cable news shows do.

Link to interactive version of above chart, where view can be changed to exclude specific politicians.

Methodological notes

The Face-o-Matic data set, available for download on the Internet Archive, uses facial recognition to track the faces of prominent public officials as they appear on major cable TV news networks: BBC News, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. The list of public officials tracked, along with the date that detection began, is here:

President & current congressional leaders

President Donald Trump, 7/13/17

Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., 7/13/17

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., 7/13/17

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., 7/13/17

Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., 7/13/17

Former living presidents and recent major party presidential candidates*

George H.W. Bush, 10/5/17

George W. Bush, 11/1/17

Jimmy Carter, 10/21/17

Bill Clinton, 9/12/17

Hillary Clinton, 9/12/17

Barack Obama, 7/13/17

Mitt Romney, 10/4/17

*Note: Our data set does not include Sen. John McCain, R., Ariz., who ran for president opposite Obama in 2008. Sample testing of facial detection for the senator revealed a somewhat frequent rate of false positives  – instances where the identified face was not the senator’s, but rather one of a number of lookalikes. While we make no claim that all of the detections in the Face-o-matic data set are error free, we did test faces to minimize these. Please be sure to notify us if you find errors in the data.

Posted in Announcements, News, Television Archive | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on TV News Record: Six takeaways from adding Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama & more to Face-o-Matic facial detection

Internet Archive and New York Art Resources Consortium Receive Grant for a National Forum to Advance Web Archiving in Art and Museum Libraries

We are pleased to announce that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has recently awarded a collaborative grant to the New York Art Resources Consortium and our Archive-It group to host a national forum event, along with associated workshops and stakeholder meetings, to catalyze collaboration among art libraries in the stewardship of historically valuable art-related materials published on the web. The New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) consists of the research libraries and archives of three leading art museums in New York City: The Brooklyn Museum, The Frick Collection, and The Museum of Modern Art. Archive-It is the web archiving service of the Internet Archive that works with hundreds of heritage organizations, including an international set of museums and art libraries, to preserve and provide access to web-published resources. Archive-It and NYARC will jointly run the project, Advancing Art Libraries and Curated Web Archives: A National Forum.

This National Leadership Grant in the Curating Collections program category to conduct a National Forum and affiliated meetings builds on NYARC’s and Archive-It’s work together expanding web archiving amongst art and museum libraries and archives, including through the ARLIS/NA Web Archiving Special Interest Group, as well as their individual efforts to advance born-digital collection building. In Reframing Collections for the Digital Age, NYARC focused on web archiving program development, including technical work to integrate Archive-It and its discovery services that can inform work in similar institutions. Archive-It, with its Community Webs program, is working with dozens of public libraries on cohort building, educational resources, and network development supporting community history web archiving — a model that can be adopted by the national art library community to scale out its coordinated efforts. In addition, Archive-It has led, and NYARC operationalized, collaborative efforts towards joint API-based systems integrations research and development to further joint services and interoperability. 

By mobilizing a broad effort through an invitational forum, the project aims to achieve national scale through network building and shared infrastructure planning that the project team will foster through a program of discussion, training, and strategic roadmapping. The project will include the contribution of a diverse group of members of the art library community, lead to published outputs on strategic directions and community-specific training materials, and launch a multi-institutional effort to scale the extent of web-published, born-digital materials preserved and accessible for art scholarship and research. Thank you to IMLS for their continued support of work advancing web archiving and the overall national digital platform initiative.

Posted in Announcements, Archive-It | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Future of Civil Discourse – Four Scenarios Imagined


by Katie Barrett and Lawrence Wilkinson

Looking 10 years ahead, try and imagine a world without trust, but rife with monopolies. Walled gardens of tech giants solidify. The DOW and Nasdaq are up, civic engagement is low, surveillance is ubiquitous. In this world, do users trust publishing on the open Internet? What does this mean for news organizations? Will there be more country-based firewalls?

Now imagine a completely different world where antitrust laws have ensured many tech winners. Equal access to knowledge is attainable. Open Source tech flourishes. Risk-­taking is on the rise. Workforces become distributed across borders. Are civil liberties organizations as needed? Do people still value privacy? Is there enough coherence to solve big issues like climate change?

Over the last several years, political and cultural changes have caught many unaware and unprepared. As a bulwark against such unpreparedness, leaders from Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Internet Archive gathered together to discuss the future of the ‘Open World.’ What role should each organization play in fostering healthy civil discourse? Are there areas for collaboration?

The four organizations joined on a yearlong journey through a process known as Scenario Planning. Led by Lawrence Wilkinson, Chairman of Heminge & Condell, the process asked participants to construct a set of very different, yet plausible stories about what the future might hold. With civil discourse as our North Star, we crafted strategies that responded both to opportunities and risks.

Questions which began as open ended and abstract led to future modalities that were distinct and concrete. Exploring a future possibility led to some clear ideas about what hurdles an open Internet may face. If, for instance, a country becomes less democratic, with weakened journalistic institutions, transparency will suffer. If economic hegemony shifts to a different part of the world, the cultural imperatives of social media giants will likely shift as well. In this spirit, the four orgs found areas for collaboration while also uncovering distinctive gaps in our ability to evolve in a changing world.

The beauty of this experience is that it offered each individual organization the time and space to do some deep, long-term thinking about its roles in civil society. It also deepened our personal relationships, which seems just as valuable as the process itself.

The Internet Archive, specifically, has emerged with a sharper vision and new projects on the horizon to foster healthy civil discourse:

  • Help make the web more useful and reliable:
    • Weave the best of human thought into the web. An Open Libraries project would bring millions of books from public libraries’ collections to billions of people.
    • Work with Wikipedia to fix more broken outbound links using the Wayback Machine and make footnotes link straight into ebooks and journals.
  • Take a leadership role in the evolving Decentralized Web
  • Bring permanence and light to the words of politicians and government that are being disappeared through the:
  • Increase our operational security

How to Build Scenarios — General Overview
To get a better sense of the overall Scenario Planning process, click here.

Scenario Planning for the future of civil discourse
To view a summary of the scenarios and general implications created by the Internet Archive, Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla and EFF, click here.

How to Build Scenarios at Your Organization
If you have questions or an interest in applying the scenarios in your own organization, you can contact Heminge & Condell here.

Posted in Announcements, News | 5 Comments

Internet Archive Meets Pineapple Fund’s $1M Challenge

As the days wound down and our April 30 deadline drew near, supporters of the Internet Archive rallied to help us raise $1 million—the amount the Pineapple Fund pledged to match. Today, we are happy to announce: We Made It! 

To the thousands of donors during this period we say THANK YOU! It takes a lot to build the Internet Archive and keep it running. We truly appreciate your support and humbled by your ringing endorsements. Here are a few from major supporters of this initiative:

“The Internet now plays a big part in human history, and the Internet Archive preserves that history, not only for the future but in a present where countering misinformation is vital.” 
Major Donor –
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist

“The Internet Archive is one of the most crucial and yet under-appreciated institutions on the internet, and does an excellent job preserving public access to much of the true history of the internet that might otherwise fall by the wayside.”
Major Donor –
Vitalik Buterin Ethereum co-founder

“A long time fan, Internet Archive stimulated my own work about lifelogging—especially digital access of the internet sites, books…and so much more.”
Major Donor – Gordon Bell, co-founder of The Computer Museum

“The Internet Archive is one of the great works of civilization. Thanks for all you do.”  
Major Donor – Tim O’Reilly
, Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media

“The Internet as we know it is an extraordinary and wild creation, the work of millions of minds.  Yes as anyone who has tried to follow broken hyperlinks on a page even a few years old knows, it is also a remarkably fragile creation.  In seeking to preserve it, the Internet Archive has become one of the most important curatorial projects of the early twenty-first century.  As such, I count it a remarkable privilege to be able to support the Archive’s effort.”
Major Donor – James Wood Bailey, Author Utilitarianism, Institutions, and Justice.

“Nobody’s putting more of our culture online where anyone can explore it, without being spied upon, ‘Free to the People’, without commercial purpose, than the Internet Archive. They’re preserving millions of books, live songs, TV shows, websites, software, and more, that now won’t be lost to future generations. They’re making the culture of the recent and deep past visible and audible in the phones and screens of today’s generations.”
Major Donor –
John Gilmore, Co-founder EFF

“The Internet has become the first rough draft of history.  That’s why today’s Internet Archive matters, and will matter even more tomorrow.”
Major Donor –
David Risher, Co-Founder and CEO, Worldreader

And in closing, thank you Pine! We couldn’t have done it without you. 

“I chose the Internet Archive as it is a library that becomes more and more valuable every day. They don’t just have the Wayback Machine, but they also have numerous archiving efforts for books, even abandoned games, and sites/communities that were shut down (thanks Archive Team!)”
Pine“, founder Pineapple Fund

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Updated 5/10/2018: Pineapple Fund makes a closing announcement:

Hi everyone,

It’s been five months, and having just made my last PF donation to the Internet Archive, I figure it might be a good time to say farewell. Continued on Reddit… 

Posted in Announcements, News | 7 Comments

Spam Faxes and the Wonders of Ephemera

In 2002, a father in the UK gathered up a pile of fax paper from his fax machine and took it home. Was he looking at some treasured writings and gathered cultural touchstones and wanted to preserve them? No, he had gotten a pile of spam faxes and wanted to bring the paper home so his kids could have something to draw on the back.

Decades later, he found the box and scanned in the contents.

And that’s how we have the 2002 Junk Faxes Collection. Over 500 pages of fax-based spam messages gathered from across a few months in 2002.

For the younger members of the crowd; Fax machines used to be very ubiquitous, and calling a lot of random phone numbers would reveal fax machines by the dozen, connected to all sorts of businesses. Many companies would also list their fax machine numbers as part of their information. For some industries and areas, a fax number was even mandatory for transactions. (And still are, in some cases!)

This, therefore, became an attack vector for all sorts of sales departments, political mailers and scammers. People could send, basically, anything. And they did!



The faxes are scanned and readable in the item in our online book reader; going to full-screen mode turns them into a very readable exhibit of pitches, come-ons and scams from the UK around that period of time.

This is an example of the power of ephemera, the parts of life and culture that are normally meant to be used for a short time, or disposed of quickly. Even though the faxes were intended to convince a small portion of the receiving audience to sign on or throw away the faxes, having them all in one place brings all sort of unintended value. We see what priorities existed for sales, what items cost, and what sorts of things could be bought. Some of the spams, like the ones asking “Yes or No”, are mostly intended to cause reaction or to call a for-pay “voting” line, but the choices and language will be of use to historians and researchers.

Thanks to Rob for keeping this material all these years, and taking the effort to scan them and bring them online!

Posted in News | Comments Off on Spam Faxes and the Wonders of Ephemera