A false sense of security persists surrounding digitized documents: because an infinite number of identical copies can be made of any original, most of us believe that our electronic files have an indefinite shelf life and unlimited retrieval opportunities. In fact, preserving the world’s online content is an increasing concern, particularly as file formats (and the hardware and software used to run them) become scarce, inaccessible, or antiquated, technologies evolve, and data decays. Without constant maintenance and management, most digital information will be lost in just a few decades. Our modern records are far from permanent.
Clicking through these cold war slides gives an uncomfortable mixture of nostalgic appreciation for the retro aesthetic combined with serious heebie-jeebies for the content.
The slides appear to be 1970s/1980s informational or training images from the United States Air Force, NORAD, Navy, and beyond.
A short documentary that you can dowload or watch online:
The film explores how image banks including Getty gain control over, and then restrict access to, archive images – even when these images are legally in the public domain. It also forms a small act of resistance against this practice: the film includes six legally licensed clips, and is downloadable as an HD ProRes file. In this way, it aims to liberate these few short clips from corporate control, and make them freely available for viewing and artistic use.
Licensed under aCreative Commons 0: “No rights reserved” license.
I like how Luke is using a large language model to make a chat interface for his own content.
This is the exact opposite of how grifters are selling the benefits of machine learning (“Generate copious amounts of new content instantly!”) and instead builds on over twenty years of thoughtful human-made writing.
Kevin takes my eleven-year old remark literally and points out at least you can emulate LaserDiscs:
So LaserDiscs aren’t the worst things to archive, networks of servers running code that isn’t available or archivable are, and we are building a lot more of those these days, whether on the web or in apps.
This is an archive of the very earliest Web browsers — the true pioneers, the Old Gods, the Ancients:
WorldWideWeb, LineMode, Viola, Erwise, Midas, TkWWW, Samba, Lynx, w3, FineWWW
There are some tasty designs in this archive from Sainbury’s.
The history of humanity in food and recipes.
The timeline of this website is equally impressive—it’s been going since 1999!
Deleting your old thoughts may be giving your older self a kick they really don’t deserve. And the beauty of having an archive is that you don’t need to decide whether you were right or not. Your views, with a date attached, can stand as a reflection of a specific moment in time.
Reconciling every past view you’ve ever had with how you feel now isn’t required. It sounds exhausting, frankly.
A Long Bet on Link Rot is Resolved, but Questions About the Durability of the Web Still Remain - Long Now
The Long Now foundation has a write-up on my recently-lost long bet:
On February 22, 02011, Jeremy Keith made a prediction that he hoped would be proven wrong.
I love reading about how—and why—people tinker with their personal sites. This resonates a lot.
This website is essentially a repository of my memories, lessons I’ve learnt, insights I’ve discovered, a changelog of my previous selves. Most people build a map of things they have learnt, I am building a map of how I have come to be, in case I may get lost again. Maybe someone else interested in a similar lonely path will feel less alone with my documented footprints. Maybe that someone else would be me in the future.
Oh, and Winnie, I can testify that having an “on this day” page is well worth it!
This speculative version of the internet archive invites you to see how websites will look in 2046.
A non-profit foundation dedicated to long-term digital preservation.
Imagine if we could place ourselves 100 years into the future and still have access to the billions of photos shared by millions of people on Flickr, one of the best documented, broadest photographic archives on the planet.
The Flickr Foundation represents our commitment to stewarding this digital, cultural treasure to ensure its existence for future generations.
Its first act is the renewal of the Flickr Commons.
Well, this is rather lovely! A collection of websites from the early days of the web that are still online.
All the HTML pages still work today …and they work in your web browser which didn’t even exist when these websites were built.
A profile of Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive in the San Francisco Chronicle.
This sounds like an interesting long-term storage project, but colour me extremely sceptical of their hand-wavey vagueness around their supposedly flawless technical solution:
This technology will be revealed to the world in the near future.
Also, they keep hyping up the Svalbard location as though it were purpose-built for this project, rather than the global seed bank (which they don’t even mention).
This might be a good way to do marketing, but it’s a shitty way to go about digital preservation.
The World Wide Web at its best is a mechanism for people to share what they know, almost always for free, and to find one’s community no matter where you are in the world.