Ever got nostalgic about that old website you used to read ten years ago? Wish you could access “the latest internet news” from 1999 on the Millennium bug, for your research? Wonder if you can still access that website you deleted five years ago?
Well, there’s a fair chance you can, using the Internet Archive “Wayback Machine” . You need to know the url of the site you want (no keyword search, yet) but it’s been archiving the web since 1996.
I’ve been very grateful for it this week, as I’m on a tight deadline to write material for a new website. Frustratingly, I knew we’d already written much of this for a previous version of the Careers Service website, the pages of which, inexplicably, disappeared. Luckily that’s when I was reminded about the Internet Archive, and yes, our old Netwise site from 2001 is still there, so expect to see a fair chunk of it “re-purposed” in the near future.
Anything you’d like deleted?
Of course there are good and bad sides of old websites still being accessible. If an employer really wants to find out what you were up to years ago, the evidence might still be there. However, they’d need to know which old website to look at, and until there’s the facility to search the archive for a name, you’re probably safe unless the employer’s really determined.
And there’s more
The Internet Archive is also a treasure store for thousands of moving images, audio and text. Don’t expect to see Hollywood blockbusters streamed on there, but the culture which gave rise to this wonderful archive is amply demonstrated by the categories under “Audio” – of the 12 categories, there’s a whole section of 7,600+ items devoted to the Grateful Dead…