Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Death of the Wayback Machine - a fond farewell

Web archaeology will be a major profession some decades down the road. This is what I predict their synopsis of the WayBack Machine will be:

"...The WayBack Machine is the foremost resource for early web research by web archaeologists. This rich database stretches from 1996 until 2008, at which time the organization reverted to the pre-web concept of categorization.
This was a mindset failure which left the years from 2008-XXXX a corrupted record. We now understand that the whole concept of raw data classification is counter-productive for two fatal reasons:

1. The scope of the Human experience is so vast that it defies classification.

2. The individual volunteers invited to administer the categorization of the database were creatures of their own time, complete with their own unique preferences and biases.

Perhaps the change was influenced by the Wikipedia method of knowledge storage which they mistakenly thought applied to their own dicipline.
In their defense, the progenitors of the change were dealing with an inordinate quantity of data which grew at an exponential rate each year, and the demise of the WayBack Machine may have been thought up as an act of necessity.
Be that as it may, the decision to revert back to a pre-web method of knowledge storage, rendered their data from that point on a severely damaged and unreliable resource, except in the field of web psychology, who have inadvertently been offered a vast resource and have gained remarkable insights into the psyche of those administering the database..."

A few months go, I was accused of plagiarism. With a few deft keystrokes, I was able to PROVE that my work preceded my accusers by many years.
This was all done with the help of the WayBack Machine. Alas, no longer can we rely on such a a simple, yet ingenious method of data discovery - it is being done for us by our contemporary 'experts'.

If I had submitted my data in the present context, it would most likely have been dismissed by those administrating for lack of proper classification - and my accuser would stand unchallenged.

-So goodbye WayBack Machine, and thank you so much for being there. I - and I suspect future generations of web researchers - will miss you.

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