The Internet has revolutionized everything from how we work to how we play—even how we do our holiday shopping. Although there’s a lot of advertising, spin, and flashy discounts crowding the Web, there are also hidden gems and common goods. This Cyber Monday, we’re celebrating the original promise of cyberspace: a place where anyone can share knowledge freely.
From the beginning, the Internet Archive was meant to be a Library of Everything for the digital age. Not only would it be a resource available to the entire world, but it would be a step forward into the future—smarter than paper and more accessible than a physical library. For 25 years we’ve been building the our collections, with help from our community every step of the way. Your support has always been crucial for our work.
Right now we’re in the middle of our End of Year fundraising campaign. Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, all gifts received through December 31, 2021 will be matched 2-to-1, tripling the impact of your generosity towards this valuable resource. If you find our website useful, please consider donating to help us continue to expand and grow.
The Internet Archive is home to billions of webpages; millions of books, videos, audio files, and images; and hundreds of thousands of software programs. Making that much data freely available to our more than 1.5 million daily users comes with a cost. Your donations will ensure that our servers can keep running, our storage can grow, and our staff can continue to maintain our systems and infrastructure.
If you can’t imagine a future without access to our vast collections, please make a tax-deductible donation today. Big or small, we promise to put your donation to good use as we continue to further Universal Access to All Knowledge.
In her powerful essay “The Sacred Geometry of Respect, Trust and Equity,” Ehmke suggests a new way forward. She challenges us to go beyond a begrudging nod to leveling the playing field. “To effect meaningful change, those whose authority and privilege are sustained by inequity must yield power and distribute agency to those who are most impacted by systemic disparities.”
At the meetup, Coraline discussed what it would mean to build a new decentralized web centered on the values of respect, trust and equity. She explored how centering the values of mutual respect, trust, and equity can help us address the challenges of promoting justice and human rights in the code we create.
Watch Coraline’s talk here:
Lightning Talk Speakers
Jenny Ryan, Project Manager at eQualit.ie for the CENO Browser. enabling you to route around censorship with a peer-to-peer web browser. Jenny is passionate about connecting grassroots communities and global initiatives. She has co-founded and stewarded three Oakland, California nonprofits: Sudo Room, Omni Commons, and Sudo Mesh.
Watch Jenny’s talk here:
Eyal Ron, Co-founder of Esteroids, the search engine for dWebsites. Eyal received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the Free University of Berlin. He was also a co-founder of Almonit (discontinued) and Alpress projects, a former member of the Bisq-core team, and the main author of a couple of DIN (German standard institute) blockchain specs.
Watch Eyal’s talk here:
Savannah Lee, Brand Director of Mysterium, an open-source Web3 project creating a censorship-resistant layer of the internet. She plugged into the Web 3.0 matrix four years ago, now focusing on R&D and strategies to grow P2P communities. Her goal is to help builders and users defend their digital rights and protect access to free information.
Watch Savannah’s talk here:
Suji Yan, Founder of Mask.io which is building a decentralized web on top of the current giant platforms. Mask helps protect users’ privacy on social media by encrypting users’ posts right before sending them out, so users control their data autonomy with their own keys.
Watch Suji’s talk here:
Mauve Signweaver, Creator of HyperGodot, a set of tools for the Godot game engine which enable developers to create local-first peer to peer games based on the protocol handlers in the Agregore browser. Mauve is a Canadian tech enthusiast with a passion for decentralization. Their main project for this is Agregore, a web browser that combines different peer to peer protocols together.
Watch Mauve’s talk here:
Joy Zhang, Founder of Quark. Quark is a Web 3.0 browser x social platform that shows you paths across the internet. Joy is an award-winning designer, engineer, and entrepreneur specializing in human-computer interaction. She has led projects at Apple, IDEO, and four early stage startups, two of which were her own. Joy was featured on Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards for her sustainable online shopping plugin, shADe.
Watch Joy’s talk here:
Bernhard Borges, Ph.D, Research scientist at the Fluence Project. Fluence is a peer-to-peer application platform which allows the creation of applications free of proprietary cloud providers or centralized APIs. His areas of expertise are Web3, IoT, enterprise integration, and privacy. Prior to Fluence, Bernhard was the Chief Scientist.at Dock Systems and an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
Watch Bernhard’s talk here:
You can register to attend the Holiday fair on December 8, 2021 at 10am PT here.Visit GetDWeb.net to learn more about the decentralized web. You can also follow us on Twitter at @GetDWeb for ongoing updates.
As a teenager in the 1940s, Ben Smith became a huge fan of swing and big-band music — especially the masterful Duke Ellington, known for the classics “Mood Indigo” and “Take the ‘A’ Train.”
Smith started collecting Ellington records in 78rpm format in high school and continued during World War II when he served in the Air Force stationed in various U.S. cities before being deployed to the Philippines and Japan. “That was my band, I was crazy about them,” he said of Ellington and his Orchestra, a centerpiece of his early swing jazz collection along with Benny Goodman, Woody Herman and other greats.
Now, the 95-year-old is sharing some of the music he collected and curated over the years with the world. Smith recently donated 300 of his beloved CDs, LPs and 78s to the Internet Archive, including a mix of classical, jazz, western swing, country, folk, and blues. A first set of the 78s is now online, and the remaining collection is queued for digitization.
“I thought somebody else should have access and be enjoying them,” said Smith, who lives in Austin, Texas. “I’m just thrilled. I’m the winner here.”
When Smith was in the hospital earlier this year, he talked with his family about what would happen to his music someday. His son, Mark Smith, recently retired as director and state librarian at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, suggested the Internet Archive could digitize the items and provide a permanent home.
“My dad isn’t a big Internet guy, so I took my computer over and showed him how it would work, and how people could listen to his music,” said Mark. “He was excited and thought it sounded wonderful.”
Mark then contacted Liz Rosenberg, donations manager at the Archive, who gave him instructions on how to ship the records and media to the Archive. He brought the CDs and records to the UPS store, where they were boxed up and sent. “It worked out great. It was easy,” said Mark.
Growing up, Mark says he was more into rock and folk music, but he understands how his dad’s generation loved the swing era and admired the musical genius of legends such as Ellington. Ben met Ellington once at a show in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1947. After the concert, he approached Ellington for an autograph, but his pen didn’t work. “He was so cordial and in his mellow voice said, ‘I have a pen’ and reached into his vest pocket and took out this beautiful pen and wrote his very ornate signature,” Ben recalls.
Born in Orange, Texas, in 1926, Ben was a staff artist at the University of Texas for 38 years. In his donation to the Archive, he included an illustration of Ellington he drew in the 1940s and a watercolor of longtime Ellington alto sax soloist Johnny Hodges.
Mark says he’s pleased to have his father’s collection featured alongside other digitized items available to the public.
“I think the Internet Archive is one of the coolest things on the whole internet – the Wayback Machine and all of the spoken word recordings, not to mention the vast Grateful Dead recordings,” said Mark Smith. “I’m very grateful to the Archive for taking in my dad’s collection, making it available and making my dad very, very happy.”
From Texas to Virginia to Pennsylvania, there is a growing movement to challenge books in schools that some suggest are inappropriate for students. Concern goes beyond explicit content; it now includes opposition to LGBTQIA material, the history of racism, and material that may cause discomfort to readers.
While efforts to ban books are not new, the solutions to counter censorship are—thanks to technology that is used to create access for all.
The Internet Archive’s Open Library (https://openlibrary.org) does not face the same local pressures that many school districts or school libraries do. At a time when students and teachers may be encountering limited access to content in their local community, the Internet Archive acquires and digitizes material for its online library, and lends a wide array of books for free to anyone, anytime.
For example, the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books in the past decade are available in a curated collection. Among the titles: The Glass Castle by Jennette Walls, banned for offensive language and sexually explicit content; The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, cited as being insensitive, anti-family and violent; and Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin, challenged for its LGBTQIA content and the perceived effects on young people who would read it.
Books dealing with gay and trans rights have long been targeted in school libraries. There are more than 1,800 titles in Open Library’s LGBTQ Collection—sorted, searchable and available to borrow online for free. Many of the novels, memoirs and works of history are not otherwise accessible to people who live in rural areas or places where those materials are explicitly banned.
New Challenges, New Responses
The new efforts to ban books are taking a much broader view of limiting access. Across the country, some objectors say books like Beloved by Toni Morrison, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988, should not be discussed or available in schools. As these lists are made public, Open Library’s volunteer team of Open Librarians take action to ensure that these books remain accessible to all.
Recently, Open Library created a collection of books removed from circulation in the Goddard School District in Kansas. It includes The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Fences by August Wilson, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1987. A small collection of banned books from Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley features Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitgerald.
Open Library’s lead community librarian, Lisa Seaberg, is curating a collection of 850 books that have recently been challenged in Texas. Among the books targeted are ones that mention human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, contain material that might make students feel uncomfortable or distressed because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.
What’s become caught up in this “wide net,” said Seaberg, are books about health education, teen pregnancy, civics, philosophy, religion, anthropology, inventions, encyclopedias and, ironically, a novel about book censorship in a high school. Those who favor removing certain books see an opportunity and momentum, she said, but the difference in this moment is that libraries are able to provide access to titles regardless of where the reader is located.
One reason books get banned is because political forces within an area become stronger than the populace, said Mek, who leads the Open Library team for the Internet Archive. “Open Library is trying to bridge these inequity gaps across geographies and social classes. We invite the populace to come together and participate in a digital sanctuary where our rich and diverse cultural heritage isn’t subject to censorship by the few with special interests.”
At the most basic level, banning books is about restricting access to knowledge, said Lisa Petrides, chief executive officer and founder of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME).
“The impact of this on schools means that students are exposed to a limited set of world views, which is extremely detrimental to critical thinking, reflective analysis and discussion,” said Petrides. “Perhaps even more importantly as we are seeing today, this means that educators and librarians are increasingly put in difficult situations, having to face the threat of reprisal from administrators or school boards, who are themselves increasingly less willing to stand up for the First Amendment rights of their teachers and learners.”
The Path Forward
Everyone’s perspectives should matter and be represented in the democratic process. A library must offer diverse materials so people can draw their own conclusions, said Mek. He embraces the oft-cited quote from librarian Jo Godwin: “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”
“It’s important for informed members of society to share their opinions,” he says. “But there’s a difference between sharing an opinion and robbing someone of the opportunity to form their own. To change hearts and minds, write a compelling book—don’t take authors you disagree with off the shelves. The Open Library community is honoring these values by giving contested titles their spots back on the shelf.”
Seaberg says, hopefully, recent book challenges will ultimately fail and access to a range of books will be restored. “If students walk into a library and they have books that only present one side of an issue, or are only relatable to a certain group in a culture, it excludes a lot of people,” she says. “They might not even know this other content exists.”
Join Library Futures, Internet Archive, and the Georgetown Intellectual Property and Information Policy (iPIP) Clinic for a panel on copyright, licensing, accessibility, and the law. We’ll be discussing new scholarship from legal experts Michelle Wu (retired Georgetown University Law Center) and Blake Reid (Clinical Professor at Colorado Law).
The Corruption of Copyright: New Scholarship in Libraries, Technology, & the Law Monday, November 15 12pm PT / 3pm ET
Wu’s “The Corruption of Copyright and Returning to its Original Purposes” (Legal Reference Services Quarterly) looks at how some industries have redirected the benefits of copyright towards themselves through licensing and other activities, which impacts author remuneration and upsets the balance of the public interest. This paper focuses on the book, music, and entertainment industries, examines how copyright has been used to suppress the uses it was intended to foster, and explores ongoing and proposed avenues for course correction: https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/2410/
Reid’s “Copyright and Disability” (forthcoming in California Law Review) discusses how recent progress toward copyright limitations and exceptions continues an ableist tradition in the development of U.S. copyright policy: centering the interests of copyright holders, rather than those of readers, viewers, listeners, users, and authors with disabilities. Using case studies, Reid explores copyright’s ableist tradition to discuss how it subordinates the actual interests of people with disability. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3381201
The panel will be moderated by Amanda Levendowski, Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown Law.
Years ago, many people rejected the idea of reading a book on a screen. Fortunately, others had a vision for the potential of digitizing the world’s knowledge.
One of those pioneers was Carnegie Mellon Professor Raj Reddy. The Internet Archive recently hosted a virtual event to honor him and celebrate the 20th anniversary of his Million Book Project that included Reddy, Vint Cerf of Google, Moriel Schottlender of the Wikimedia Foundation, Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive, Mike Furlough of HaithiTrust, and Liz Ridolfo of the University of Toronto.
Since Reddy’s dream of providing universal access to all human knowledge—instantly to anyone, anywhere in the world—others have embraced the mission. Advocates of mass digitization discussed the tremendous impact that open access to creative works online has had on society, the challenges ahead, and potential, if more books are unleashed.
“There are tens of millions of digitized books available on the internet now. Many of these are born digital. Many more are being converted from print copies,” said Mike Furlough, executive director at HathiTrust, which has a collection of 17.5 million digital books. “This is really a human accomplishment that represents decades, if not centuries, of intellectual labor, physical labor to steward and preserve these items.”
Reddy said he knew his vision two decades ago was just the beginning and there is a huge amount of room to improve the utility of digital works. “It’s time for us to put our heads together to find a way to create digital libraries and archives that are far more useful than what we have today,” he said.
Many agreed more must be done to expand efforts, build a sustainable infrastructure and raise awareness of the shifting role of libraries to provide digital materials.
Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle said Reddy was right that bringing our full history online for the next generation is important, but it’s not been easy technically or institutionally.
“If we’ve ever wondered why you’d want digital books, the year 2020 told us why. The global pandemic hit and shut down school libraries, public libraries, and college libraries,” Kahle said. “We got calls from professors, teachers and homeschoolers, desperate to find some way in their Zoom classrooms to bring books to kids.”
The Internet Archive responded, explaining how libraries could extend access digitally to books that were in their physical collections. This helped make a big difference on the ground, and Kahle says policies are changing so libraries are confident in serving their digital learners. For instance, as libraries spend $12 billion a year on materials, Kahle said they should be able to purchase (not lease) e-books to fulfill their mission of service to users.
There was also a push among panelists for digitization to be more inclusive of works from all kinds of authors, recognizing what is being scanned is what’s already been obtained by libraries. “I think we should ask more questions: What aren’t we digitizing? What are the economic or political forces that are constraining our choices and what corrective measures can we take?” Furlough said.
The future interaction with knowledge involves the digitization of books and expanding the diversity of voices is critical, said Moriel Schottlender, principal system architect with the Wikimedia Foundation.
“Making resources available to anyone online is key and this is really what we’re striving for,” said Schottlender, noting Wikipedia’s mission is to be a beacon of factual information that is verifiable, neutral and transparent. “Our goal is that everyone in the world should be able to contribute to the sum of all knowledge. But not everyone has equal access to knowledge, to books, to journals, to libraries, to educational materials…We use digitization to increase equity.”
There is growing demand for all kinds of digital information, said Liz Ridolfo, special collections projects librarian at University of Toronto Libraries.. Donors want items digitized for a variety of reasons including to protect rare items, to reach a broader audience, and to free up physical space for other materials. Especially during the pandemic, Ridolfo said, it has been useful to have a curated collection of online teaching and reference materials.
Vint Cerf, vice president and internet evangelist at Google, said people are increasingly going online to get answers to questions—often turning to YouTube to view how-to videos. That demand for “just-in-time learning” is not a substitute for long-form content, he said, but it’s an interesting phenomenon that may draw people to the internet to learn more.
Looking ahead, Reddy said there is a need for big change to address the broken copyright law. His aspiration is that by 2031, there will be a frictionless, streamlined copyright regime, in which authors register for no fee, but can extend the copyright of a work indefinitely if they want by paying a prescribed fee. For users, he proposes access to copyright material for fair use in less than five minutes. They could pay a required fee, as prescribed by the data for a single copy use. If the copyright is not registered with the national digital library, then fines for copyright violations of unregistered copyright material should be nominal.
“Let’s take Raj’s vision here and make it come true,” Kahle said. “Who should argue against the streamline system where fair uses are easy. Where compensation is understood, where there’s registration and the actual copyrighted materials are in repositories that are long-term protected. Let’s just do this.”
Earlier this summer, the Internet Archive announced its partnership with the New York Art Resources Consortium (NYARC) to form a collaborative, web-based art resources preservation and access initiative. We are now thrilled to announce that the initiative has kicked off with a diverse roster of 24 participating member institutions throughout the United States and Canada.
The Collaborative ART Archive (CARTA)projecthas a mission to collect, preserve, and provide access to vital arts content from the web by supporting a vibrant, growing collaboration of art and museum libraries. With funding from federal agencies and foundations, the Internet Archive is able to expand CARTA to a diverse set of museums and art libraries worldwide and to broaden the ways the resulting collections can be discovered and used both by scholar and patrons.
The arts institutions actively participating in this program so far include:
American Craft Council
American Folk Art Museum
ART | library deco
Art Gallery of Ontario
Art Institute of Chicago
Fashion Institute of Technology
Getty Research Institute (Getty Library)
Harvard University – Fine Arts Library
Harvard University – Graduate School of Design
Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
Maryland Institute College of Art
Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia
National Gallery of Art Library
National Gallery of Canada
New York Art Resources Consortium
Philadelphia Museum of Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
The Menil Collection
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Spencer Reference Library
University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hamilton Library
Membership in the program includes national and regional art and museum libraries throughout the United States and Canada committed to the preservation of 21st century art historical resources on the web. One of our early supporters and current CARTA member Amelia Nelson, Director of Library and Archives at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, noted the increased risk of losing art history on the web in comparison to earlier generations of artists: “Websites are the letters, exhibition postcards, exhibition reviews and newspaper articles of today’s artists and artistic communities, but they aren’t resources that scholars can find in archives like the physical materials that document the careers of earlier generations of artists. I worry that as we lose these sites, we are also losing the potential for scholars to place this moment in the canon of art history and culture broadly. This initiative will build a collaborative and sustainable way for art libraries to pool their limited resources, with the technical, administrative, and organizational expertise of the Internet Archive, to ensure that this content is available for future generations.”
The initial group of member institutions have identified an initial set of more than 150 valuable and at-risk websites, articles, and other materials on five primary collection topics: Local Arts Organizations; Artists Websites; Art Galleries; Auction Houses (Catalogs/Price Lists); and Art Criticism. These collections will continue to grow and evolve over the course of the project, capturing thousands of websites and many terabytes of data.
We’re actively seeking more US-based arts institutions to participate in the project as we continue to grow our collections of web-based art history resources. Collaborative members attend meetings every two months to coordinate curation and other group activities as well as participate in subcommittees focused on collection development, metadata, end-user/researcher engagement, and outreach. If you are involved with an art and/or museum library interested in joining this collaborative project, please complete this form.
This year’s Library Leaders Forum brought more than 1,300 people together for virtual discussions across the month of October. All of the public sessions were recorded and are available for viewing at https://www.libraryleadersforum.org. Check out the following highlights:
Library Leaders Forum Sessions
October 13 Session I: Community Dialogue Hear from library leaders as they navigate the challenges of the ebook marketplace & their concerns about the future of library collections. Watch now
October 20 Session II: Community Impact Hear firsthand from educators & librarians about the value of digitized library collections for the patrons, students, and communities they serve. Watch now
2021 Internet Archive Hero Award
Librarians Kanta Kapoor & Lisa Radha Weaver have been named the recipients of the 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award for helping their communities stay connected to digital books during the pandemic. Watch the awards ceremony
October 7 Controlled Digital Lending: Unlocking the Library’s Full Potential Hear from the authors of the new CDL policy document. Watch now
October 12 Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending Learn how CDL works, the benefits of the Open Libraries program, and the impact that the program is having for partner libraries and the communities they serve. Watch now
October 27 Resource Sharing with the Internet Archive Learn about the Internet Archive’s new resource sharing initiatives and how your library can participate. Watch now
NOTE: On October 21, 2021, the Internet Archive celebrated its 25th anniversary in a virtual event featuring this keynote address by Founder & Digital Librarian, Brewster Kahle. You can watch the talk here or read the transcript below.
Universal Access to All Knowledge has been the dream for millennia, from the Library of Alexandria on forward. The idea is that if you’re curious enough to want to know something, that you can get access to that information. That was the promise of the printing press or Andrew Carnegie’s public libraries — fueling so much citizenship and democracy in the United States. The Internet was the opportunity to really make this dream come true.
What we have is an opportunity that happens maybe only once a millennium. The opportunity that comes only when we change how knowledge is recorded and shared. From oral to manuscript, manuscript to printing, and now from printing to digital. I was lucky enough to be there in 1980 and thought: what a fantastic opportunity to try to influence that transition.
Of course, we were building on the vision of many before us. This dream of having an interlocking publishing system had been around for a long time. Vannevar Bush’s 1945 article “As We May Think” was very much on people’s minds in the 1980s. There was Ted Nelson’s Xanadu—a world of hypertext. Doug Engelbart’s way of annotating and enabling you to build on the works of others.
The key thing was not the computers. Actually, it was the network. It was the ability to communicate with each other. Sure, anybody could go and write word processing documents. That’s good. But can you make everybody a publisher? Can everyone find their voice and their community no matter where they are in the world? And can people write in a way that allows others to build on their work? By 1996, we had built that. It was the World Wide Web.
With this global publishing network, the Web, we could finally build the library. It was time to build the library. In 1996, I thought: Why don’t we just build this thing? I mean, how hard could it be? Sure, maybe we’re going to have to go and digitize a whole library, but that couldn’t be that hard, right?
And so, a group of us said, let’s do this. We started by archiving the most transient of media, which was the World Wide Web’s pages. We did that for five years before we even made the Wayback Machine. The idea was to record what people were publishing and be able to go and use that in new and different ways. Could we build a library to preserve all of that material, but then add computers to the mix, so that something new and magic happens? Could we connect people, connect ideas, build on each other’s concepts with computers and these new AI things that we knew were coming. Ultimately could we make the world smarter?
Could we make people smarter by being better connected? Not just because they could read what other people were writing, but because machines would help filter information, scan vast amounts of knowledge, emphasize what is most important, provide context to the deluge.
In many ways, we have achieved this, but not completely enough: now people are writing and sharing knowledge, but it is intermingled with misinformation — purposefully false information. We still don’t have the tools to filter out the lies, and in many ways, we have business models that prosper when misinformation is widely shared. So while the dream of access may be at hand, we lack the tools and responsible organizations to help us make good use of the flood of data now at our fingertips. Given how new our digital transition is, this may not be that surprising, but it is an urgent issue that faces us. We need to fight misinformation and build data-mining tools to leverage all this knowledge to help people make better decisions — to be smarter.
This is our challenge for our next 25 years.
When we started the Internet Archive, I felt this project needed to be done in the open and as a non-profit. We needed to have not just one or two search engines, we needed lots and lots of different organizations building their new ideas on top of the whole knowledge base of humanity. We could help by being a library for this new digital world.
The libraries I grew up with were vast and free, and came with librarians who helped me understand and find things I needed to know. In our new digital world, that future is not guaranteed. It may be that most people will just feed on what they can access for free, placed there because it’s promoted by somebody. If we don’t solve this–getting quality published material to the internet population–we’re going to bring up a generation educated on whatever dreck they can find online. So we have to build not only universal access to lots of webpages, but access to the right and best information– Universal Access to All Knowledge. That is going to require requiring changes to existing business models and adjustments by long standing institutions. We need an Internet with many winners. If we have an Internet with just a few winners, some big corporations and large governments that are controlling too much of what’s online, then we will all lose.
A library alone can not solve all of these issues, but it is a necessary component, needed infrastructure in a digital world.
25 years ago, I thought building this new library would largely be a technological process, but I was wrong. It turns out that it’s mostly a people process. Crucially, the Internet Archive has been supported by hundreds of organizations. About 800 libraries have helped build the web collections that are in the Wayback Machine. Over 1000 libraries have contributed books to be digitized into the collections—now 5 million volumes strong. And beyond that, people with expertise in, say, railway timetables, Old Time Radio, 78 RPM records—they’ve been donating physical media and uploading digital files to our servers that you see here in this room. Last year, well over 100 million people used the resources of the Internet Archive, and over 100,000 people made a financial donation to support us. This has truly been a global project– the people’s library.
I love the weird and wacky stuff of the Internet, just the fun and frolicy things. You go online and see these things like, wow, that’s remarkable.
Yesterday, I was looking through the uploads from Kevin Hubler. He donated the collection his father built over his lifetime. His father collected everything a particular singer, Buddy Clark, had ever done. Clark was a 1940’s big band singer who died when he was 37. So I could listen to records, see sheet music, and dive into details, all thanks to Kevin Hubler. I love this– going down rabbit holes and learning something deeply. This was a tribute to Buddy Clark, but also to Kevin and his father– who prepared and preserved something they loved for the future.
That we’re able to enjoy each other and to express our wackiness– that’s the win of the World Wide Web! That’s the thing that you wouldn’t get if it were all just more channels of television. Yes, the internet and the World Wide Web are a bit of the Wild West, but would you want it any other way? Isn’t that where the fun and interesting things come from?
Today, it is still the people’s internet. That’s the internet that I wanted to support by starting the Internet Archive. The World Wide Web is an experiment in radical sharing where people feel that they’re better off, not worse off, building on other people’s works.
I’m hopeful and optimistic that we can build this next 25 years to be as interesting and fun as the last. That we can usher in another level of technology, another 25 years of blossoming, interesting ideas.
I want to end this talk with a personal story– my grandfather Douglas Lurton was a publisher and an author who died before I was born. Last weekend I searched for his name using full text search in the 20 million texts now on the Archive and found this quotation from him in a newspaper from West Sacramento: “Take the tools in hand and carve your own best life.” — Douglas Lurton
Now, I would like to extend my grandfather’s advice. “Let us all take our tools in hand, and together, carve our own best future.”
As part of the Internet Archive’s 25th Anniversary celebration we asked artist LaTurbo Avedon to contemplate what the year 2046 and the future of the internet might look like through the lens of their own art practice.
LaTurbo Avedon introduces the work Hypertext Wishes, inviting viewers to follow a virtual token as it passes into a contemplative well of the Internet. Avedon has spent the past decade developing a body of work that illuminates the ever-growing intensity between users and virtual experiences, pursuing creative environments that deepen the meaning of memories found in the metaverse. They curate and design Panther Modern, a file-based exhibition space that encourages artists to create site-specific installations for the Internet.
Here is a clip from Hypertext Wishes, available for viewing at Internet Archive Headquarters:
LaTurbo Avedon is an avatar and artist, creating work that emphasizes the practice of non-physical identity and authorship. Their process of character creation continues through gaming, performance and exhibitions. Their work has appeared internationally, including The Whitney Museum (New York City). The Manchester International Festival (UK), Transmediale (Berlin), Haus der elektronischen Künste (Basel), HMVK (Dortmund), Barbican Center (London), Galeries Lafayette (Paris), and TRANSFER Gallery (New York).