Monday, November 17, 2008

Thing 22: Quick, to the Wayback Machine!...and everything else at

The Internet Archive is a worldwide initiative to build a deep and broad repository of human cultural history in digital form with the participation of libraries, archives, research institutions, scholars and everyday folks. The Archive is open-access, meaning that everything contained in it is in the public domain and usually under a Creative Commons license.

The Wayback Machine preserves the way the Web was by periodically capturing 'snapshots' of the Internet. You can see a website's history by typing in the URL and choosing from the dates available. (I must say, the Boston Public Library's first home page wasn't very inspiring.)

The Moving Image Archive contains thousands of digital movies, including classic full-length films, alternative news broadcasts, and videos uploaded by Archive users. Among its treasures are the Prelinger Archives and the Machinima Archive.

The Live Music Archive is an amazing collection of concert recordings from bands obscure and famous. One of my favorite examples is the live recordings of Chucklehead, a now-defunct Boston-area band from the 1990s.

The Audio Archive is comprised of digital recordings of all sorts, from audiobooks and music to alternative news programs and poetry readings. Through the Netlabels collection, community-oriented 'virtual record labels' share their catalogs of signed and unsigned artists from around the world.

The Text Archive is open to anyone in the world, though it is the contributions of libraries scanning their public domain items that form the backbone of the collection. Of particular note is the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a joint effort of ten major natural history museum libraries, botanical libraries, and research institutions.

Finally, The Software Achive aims to preserve and provide access to legally downloadable software from around the web. They are also archiving (but not providing access to) copyright-protected software through the CLASP project; access will be granted to the archived materials as their copyrights expire.

Discovery Activity
Yes, you could spend hours roaming through any of these archives. Let's narrow things down by focusing on The Wayback Machine. Please search for your institution's URL and post a link to the earliest version in the archive.

To Go the Extra Mile, poke around in one of the media archives and share a treasure with us.

Now, let's round out our week of multimedia Things by moving from the stasis of the archives to the in-the-moment nature of streaming media. Why don't you flow on over to Thing 23: The Internet Brought Back the Radio Star.

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