Friday 4 January 2013

The Internet Archive

A friend told me today about a show he saw the other day on something called the Internet Archive. He took me down to his basement and played the recorded show for me and I was suitably impressed.

The Internet Archive was founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996 and aspires to provide universal access to all knowledge. That is quite a goal to have set for your self. It is kind of like a modern day Library of Alexandria. It is such a huge undertaking that I can’t really get my head around it.

Not only does he plan to have all books digitally available, but it seems that everything that has ever been on the web will be saved for posterity as well. There is concert footage, music recorded by the fans at concerts and …well…God only knows what. I suppose that this blog might someday be found and saved for the betterment of mankind. I don’t know about betterment, but it would be kind of cool if someone a couple of hundred years from now starts to read the blog and perhaps write a scholarly paper on blogging in general.

I just scratched the surface of the Archive today, but there are already three million books scanned in and all sorts of music. I imagine there will be movies, television shows, newspapers, magazines and perhaps even community newsletters. It just boggles the mind! Well, my mind anyways. The archive holds about 10 petabytes as of October 2012. A petabyte is 1000 terrabytes which is equal to a quadrillion bytes. Let’s just say it is a lot and leave it at that.

I didn’t mention, but this is a free service and not for profit which is amazing in our greedy little world. I don’t know how or where Brewster gets the money to afford all of the servers that are needed, but I commend him and his associates for doing good work. He is the Mother Theresa of the digital age. Hell, in a hundred years or so he might be up for canonization. Imagine all of human knowledge just there for the taking.

I suppose that the biggest problem will be developing a really good method of accessing all of the information. That will come in time and what a cool time it will be. The beauty of this in my mind is that unlike the internet and wikipedia this should be the truth and nothing but the truth. Well, that is my hope anyways.

I am pretty happy with the way things are now. I have no trouble finding information for pretty much anything I want to research. The Internet Archive will be another tool for students and scholars now and in the future. You should check it out for yourself... 

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