ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

[Editor: Michael writes a regular Website Review column for Associates. He wrote his first review "The World Wide Web Workbook (Or How I Learned To Use The Web Without Being Insulted" <> in Associates (1998, March, v. 4, no. 3).]

*A Time Machine for Web Pages*


Michael D. Brooks
Saint Joseph’s University
Drexel Library
5600 City Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19131

The Interactive Archive: Wayback Machine <> is a Web archive of Web pages dating back to 1996. It is operated by a non-profit organization, The Internet Archive, which is dedicated to archiving the Internet and building a repository of information freely available to the general public, as well as those interested in more specialized research.

To see what a Web page looked like back in 1996, simply type in the URL and click the "Take Me Back" button. A Search Results page will appear if the page has been archived. It will contain a list of clickable links to that page’s various incarnations dating back to its first appearance. Click on the date you want to visit. An old version of the page from the time period you select will download. If you are curious enough to find out if any of the hyperlinks still work, click them. If the addresses have not changed, you will download a current version of the page. In other words, if you browse a 1996 version of a university homepage, for example, and click on the admissions link, and the address of that link is still the same, then the current version of the admissions page connected to that link will download itself to your browser.

If you click on a link and the address has changed, a File Location Message will appear suggesting a host of link choices to click. Clicking a link will take you to a page with options to choose from. Select one of the options and click. You will eventually be rewarded with a page related to your link. If a link address has changed, you may also see the following message: Robots.txt Retrieval Exclusion. This simply informs you that the page owners do not want you accessing the page. Fortunately, you won’t encounter the latter message too often.

The site does have a tendency to get bogged down, though. Many pages are slow to load and seem to never completely load with slower Internet connections—especially if they are graphics intensive pages or full of links. You can always click the stop button on your browser if you do get tired of waiting. You might have a much more enjoyable time browsing these archives with a broadband connection to the Internet, but if you have the patience, the simple curiosity of seeing what web pages once looked like is worth the wait. After all, the Web is humorously referred to as the World Wide Wait anyway.

However, if you do find the site enjoyable, informative, and educational, despite having a slow connection, you can gain quick access to archives by going to the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine homepage and dragging the "Wayback" link to your browser.

First Serial Rights Only
© 2004 by Michael D. Brooks

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