Internet Archive struggles to preserve the web thanks to walled gardens and paid sites


To sum up: It’s been over 26 years since the Internet Archive set out to preserve all kinds of digital material, including software, games, movies, images, and of course, web pages. The Wayback Machine is the mechanism that handles the ever-growing task of collecting and collating Internet snapshots and it has come a long way since the mid-90s.

Think of the Wayback Machine as a virtual time machine. With it, you can travel back in time and see what websites looked like at regular intervals throughout history. It can be extremely useful when researching or fact-checking and just as fun when chronicling the evolution of web design over the years.

The Wayback Machine had managed to archive two terabytes of data after just one year, which was a huge amount of data at the time. These days, you can store it all on a $30 USB flash drive and carry it around in your pocket.

Today, the Wayback Machine has over 700 billion web pages in its database and is approaching 100 petabytes. Unfortunately, the nonprofit’s job isn’t getting any easier as paywalls and other walled gardens like Facebook are making it harder and harder to capture. Will we have a well-kept record of current social media activity 20 years from now?

Related Reading: Internet Archive Has Improved Its Computerworld Scans

If the metaverse materializes as some predict, the Internet Archive will have to scale its collection efforts accordingly or risk failing to catalog what happens on this digital medium.

Not everyone believes that the organization has the right to do some of the things it does. When the Internet Archive launched the National Emergency Library with no waitlists at the start of the pandemic, several publishers said it amounted to deliberate mass copyright infringement.

The Internet Archive shut down its emergency lending library early in hopes of avoiding a costly lawsuit, but the publishers sued anyway. In July, both parties filed a motion for summary judgment.


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