Ever heard of the Wayback Machine? It’s an archive of old websites, a compilation of the Internet’s once-upon-a-times. I’ve heard it mentioned occasionally by the media as one of their sources.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about the Wayback Machine, who runs it, or how it came about. Its FAQ page includes a lot of information, including that it started in 1996 and collects all “publicly accessible” pages on the Internet. That’s a lot of information, more than in the Library of Congress. The caveat to Internet users, obviously, is that things you post and then remove may not really be gone; they may have been picked up by the Wayback Machine. And I have no idea how long the Machine keeps things.
Some of you may remember my post about Yahoo closing down its Geocities site, the free web hosting service where I had an old website. Oocities archived a significant portion of Geocities’ content in order to preserve it, but now I’m wondering why they bothered if the Wayback Machine was already doing that.
In any case, I was exploring the Wayback Machine this morning and found my old website. Some of the links are broken, but not nearly as many as were broken in the Oocities archive. What’s amazing to me is that I wrote all the code for that site. I couldn’t do that now if my life depended on it. Not without weeks and weeks of study, practice, and frustrating trial and error.
It’s fun for me to see my old website again, but frustrating as hell that it’s now beyond my reach, out of my control. I can’t change it, add to it, or make it go away.