Mona Abdallah on 10 Jul 2000 14:49:25 -0000

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<nettime> Web History

Company aims to preserve Web history

July 7, 2000
Web posted at: 2:02 p.m. EDT (1802 GMT)

>From staff reports

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- The Internet provides a unique glimpse into the
lives of ordinary people, much like newspapers of old, but little is being
done to preserve Web pages for future historians. One non-profit company is
trying to change that.

"We have a shadow of the world that we're able to capture and make
available to the future," said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet

The Internet Archive is a massive collection of Web sites donated by the
Alexa Internet, an arm of It preserves those Web pages that
would otherwise be wiped from computer memories and lost forever.

"The way we're able to pull this off is by having robots that go around and
contact every Web server around the world periodically, and download each
page -- each image -- off of every one of those sites," Kahle said.

The amount of information stored already surpasses in volume the entire
contents of the Library of Congress.

Begun in 1996, the collection included only text until this year, when the
Internet Archive began collecting images at a rate of about 200 images
every five seconds.

But many Web pages already are lost.

"I don't known if John McCain this year saved some of the Web pages that
documented the fact that he raised a tremendous amount of his campaign
funds on the Internet," said David Allison, chairman of the Division of IT
and Society at the Smithsonian Institution. "Maybe that moment in history
is gone."

Some organizations activate a filter so companies like the Internet Archive
can't archive their content.

For now, the Internet Archive stores part of its collection on the
company's premises, but Kahle hopes the archives will be available online
in a few years.

Why save the entire Internet, when some would argue that most of it is junk?

Referring to newspapers of the past, Kahle said, "If we had been selective,
we probably would have kept all the articles and thrown away those ads, but
it's the ads that the historians really like. That's what gives them a much
better glimpse of what life was like."

CNN Science Correspondent Ann Kellan contributed to this report

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