Saturday, November 3, 2007

Gee, Mr. Peabody! It's the Wayback Machine!

Some of you might remember Mr. Peabody, the bow-tie wearing dog, and Sherman, Mr. Peabody's "pet-boy" assistant, from the old Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon. These two characters would use the WABAC machine (refereed to as the "Wayback" machine) to go back in time and see historical events as they happened.

Obviously, we don't have the capability for creating machines that travel through time (nor can we create bow tie wearing talking dogs, but that's another problem), but we DO have the capability to travel back in time as far as the internet is concerned.

Over at The Internet Archive (www.archive.org), this non-profit group has set up what is basically an internet historical library and archive. Available for access are things such as "snapshots" of web sites as they were in the past, software, audio and visual files (like old movies), and various texts.

One of the key components is "The Wayback Machine" which allows users to enter a URL address and see archived snapshots of the site going back several years. This is a handy tool if you ever run into the problem of having a website with info you need that appears to have been taken down. Throw the address in the "Wayback Machine" and see if a there is an archived entry!

The Internet Archive, in case you were wondering about credentials, is a member of the American Library Association (ALA) and has official recognition as a library in the state of California.

Best of all, it's free!