Instant Nostalgia

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How To Get An Instant Nostalgia Fix

  1. Go to Alexa.com.
  2. Type in the name of a site (you can leave out the www part).
  3. You’ll then get a page with site info, but for now, ignore that and look to the left side of the page.
  4. You’ll see a link which says, “History – Wayback.” Click it.
  5. You’ll then get a listing of dates for which the front page of the website has been preserved.

How well the page has been preserved or how well the links work is pretty much a hit-or-miss proposition, but I’m sure it will fascinate some and
at least it’s a less-obvious timewaster in the office than going to porn sites. 🙂

The organization responsible for doing this is a place called The Internet Archive. They are preserving as much as they can
of the Web as it grows as develops for historical purposes.

For instance, they have five terabytes worth of data about 911. Might not seem like a big deal now, but when your grandson or great-grandson wants to write about it, it will be an incredibly valuable resource.

As you might guess, this chews up a lot of rust, over 100Tb so far. This takes money, and here’s how you can make a donation.

Why Should I Care?

History is the story of man. To the historian writing about today two, three or more hundred years from now, the Internet will simply be the most important historical development of our time. That is, unless somebody conquers or blows up the world fairly shortly.

History doesn’t usually remember people too well. How many people do you remember that lived a thousand years ago? If you’re the average American, the likely (and also correct) answer is one: Leif Ericsson. At the time, there were about 300-400 million people walking around. Pretty bad odds.

OK, not the best time to ask about, nor maybe the best person to ask. But even a professional historian for any time in history more than about 250 years ago would have a hell of a time coming up with a list of more than a few thousand alive at any one time.

Imagine if they had the Web back in Leif Ericsson’s day and preserved. You wanted to find out what Leif was doing, you’d just go over to www.leifericsson.com. You’d know more about Leif Ericsson after ten minutes on this “site” than the world’s leading authority on him knows about him today.

If you don’t know much about Leif, what do you know about the guys working under him, or his neighbors? Imagine what you’d learn if you had a preserved copy of the Greenland.com forums of the day.

Obviously, those people didn’t have such technology. But we do. It’s our choice to preserve it or not so that others who come long after us will know what it was like to be us. So someone whose great-great-great-grandfather isn’t even born yet might know who you were and what you were really like long after you’re gone.

A chance to toss your bottle with a message in the sea of time.

Ed

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