Why I Love Helping Back up the Public Web

Over the past couple of years the Wayback Machine has been written about, or referenced, by journalists, researchers, academics and students in more than a thousand published news articles.

This week a CNN article used the Wayback Machine to bring to light writings of a public figure, that otherwise would have been lost, in a relevant and current context. Reading the article made me the happiest about leading the Wayback Machine project since I started 3 years ago.

I think it is fair to say that this article, written by Andrew Kaczynski, @KFILE of CNN, makes the case stronger, and more clearly, than any other, of the importance of cultural memory in general, and the Wayback Machine in particular, in the role of supporting a healthy political discourse and helping to hold those in power accountable.

The article cites two columns of now Vice President Mike Pence that were posted about 17 years ago and that can be read via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine here and here. However they return a 404 (page not found) error when accessed via the “Live Web” here and here, and have been gone from the live web for more than a decade.

The fruits of the Wayback Machine are the result of thousands of people over the past 20 years, working, volunteering and otherwise contributing to the Internet Archive’s efforts to preserve our cultural heritage and helping to make the web more useful and reliable.

If it were not for the Wayback Machine, the cogent and earnest writings of a columnist who became Vice President of the United States might not be available for us to reflect on, and benefit from, today.

To all those who value journalism, memory, context and perspectives, supporting the Internet Archive’s mission of Universal Access to All Knowledge is necessary now more than ever in our digital age.

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2 Responses to Why I Love Helping Back up the Public Web

  1. Michele says:

    Hi all.
    I think a special attention a has to be given to en.Wikipedia.org, one of the most readden websites in the World.

    The homepage is saved in the Wayback Machine, but the daily featured article (
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page)

    is not always available on Web Archive in its last version. At the moment it is the article titled “Intimacy” (https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intimacy_(Bloc_Party_album))

    Like other main websites, Wikipedia doesn’t support yet HTTP connections, for privacy, technical and security reasons (https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_of_Wikipedia)

    Perhaps, this policy results in the exclusion from the web for people living under Internet censorship, that block completely websites, while they can’t do a selective control on single pages accessed by users.

    A daily backup of Homepage and Wikinews, and independent website will url people familiar with Tor, Orfox, proxies and similar anonymous connection tools.

    P.S.
    Low-level income citizens of Third World Countries wouldn’t have experienced the digital divide in the same degree it mpwould appear, as it results by the diffusion of mobile financial services in 2015 (https://iq.intel.com/third-world-iou/ ).

  2. Michele says:

    A daily (or more frequent) backup of en.wikipedia Homepage and related links will help Third World users that can’t access HTTPS through a cheap and obsolete smartphone, or by virtue of the blocks imposed by dictatorships.

    https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intimacy_(Bloc_Party_album)

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_of_Wikipedia

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