Saturday, February 13, 2010

Archive

Well over half a day of travel time to and from the premiere of The Putt Putt Syndrome took a lot out of me. Tomorrow I should have a full detailing of the trip up on the blog. With videos, pictures, and stories, the post should be interesting to say the least.

I promised you all my new favorite site in my last post and was unable to deliver what with all the hubub about Winter Carnival and the scramble for New York. Now I present to you what I believe to be one of the coolest sites on the web.

Enter the Internet Archive and you will find a treasure trove of fascinating content. The archive is an attempt to catalogue the information on the internet into a sort of library accessible to anyone. At first I thought of Wikipedia. But instead of being a place to bring sources together into an article the Internet Archive contains the original documents, videos, music, audio, etc. The archive isn't just trying to preserve facts either. It's trying to preserve cultures.

This quote from the "about" page shows just was the Archive is trying to do.

Digitized information, especially on the Internet, has such rapid turnover these days that total loss is the norm. Civilization is developing severe amnesia as a result; indeed it may have become too amnesiac already to notice the problem properly. The Internet Archive is the beginning of a cure - the beginning of complete, detailed, accessible, searchable memory for society, and not just scholars this time, but everyone."
Stewart Brand, president, The Long Now Foundation


As I mentioned before the Archive has videos and music, not just text. It also has a function called the "Wayback Machine" which allows you to view the internet as it appeared in the past, in some cases all the way back to 1996. I haven't had the chance to fully explore the site and it's capabilities yet but what I have uncovered is fascinating. Here is an article someone else wrote on the wayback machine. It's kind of cool to see what the internet looked like long ago.

Mostly I've been focusing on the "moving images" portion of the site. They have feature films that have run past their copyright and are now available for free. I found a few that are pretty neat that I plan on watching including "Things to Come" which looks like a very impressive sci-fi film for being made in 1936. I also found "Nosferatu" and "Plan 9 from Outer Space," both films I had planned on watching at some point. I've been giving examples of really old videos but there are much more modern ones as well.



The Archive isn't the easiest site to navigate and it can be difficult to know just what it is you are looking at sometimes but the possibility of finding gems in the pile of records is exciting. If however you don't feel like sifting through the archives yourself the curators update frequently with some of thier latest favorite videos, texts, songs, and more. You can also simply check what people are downloading the most in each section of the Archives.


The archives are stored on massive banks of computers in multiple locations to add redundant protection should something happen to the archive. Every day new information is added and catelogued. The process is really fascinating.
The Archives are like a Barnes and Noble store to me; I could go in and look around for hours, endlessly entertained, and never find just what I'm looking for. Or I might find something I would never have expected.


So check out the Internet Archives and see what you can discover.