You’ve got to love an internet project whose goal is to preserve in amber the many life stages of web pages from the web’s two-decade history. Currently the Web Wayback Machine boasts 286 billion web pages stored. (Its parent project, Archive.org provides free streaming and downloads of tons of other media. I just got lost in it for 30 minutes, pausing quite a while at this excellent print of Fritz Lang’s film noir classic Scarlet Street.)
The Web Wayback Machine has some practical research applications. If a site you enjoy took down a page you needed to refer back to, you very well may find it here. Or perhaps you want to see what the world of website search engines looked like 20 years ago, before Google came on the scene and gobbled market share with its exponentially better results:
Or you can see the technology, way back at the turn of the millennium, that Google eventually licensed from Overture / Yahoo Search Services once it claimed market dominance, thereby monetizing search results and turning a brilliant approach to searches into an obscenely profitable one.
You can do all of those things, but hey, if you are me, you’ll do the Wayback equivalent of self-googling. You’ll revisit the first design of your 10-year-old blog, Digital Solid. That site has been idle since I joined my current employer six years ago, but back then I was posting an average of twice a week. Here’s an excerpt from the Wayback Machine:
The artwork in the right column, a portrait of sorts, is by the extraordinary Max Estes, who went from teaching illustration in Milwaukee and frequenting the same coffee shop as me, to creating Norwegian children’s books …
… and making lovely prints such as this one:
Thanks, Web Wayback, for the fond memories — including a caricature of me that still makes me laugh.