Feeds

Who's archiving IT's history?

The mishandling of Babbage's baggage

Security for virtualized datacentres

Worse, a lot of sites block the Archive from accessing their pages. The archive spiders call, and are recognised as "proxy avoidance" sites. It's a trick, the site monitor decides, attempting to display naughty images to people who have asked not to see them.

So Websense blacklists Wayback Machine as 'Proxy Avoidance Systems'. Observe, given the description, one might think that such sites are somehow disreputable or have little value besides getting around the censorware. Few people would consider that an extensive historical web archives qualifies. And that access is denied to a digital library by the imperatives of control, the necessities of the blinder-box.

So I got quite excited when NetModo announced:

NetModo Inc., a web-publishing venture aimed at providing free content to consumers, launched their initial website www.NewsModo.com with over 3.5 million news articles from 85 newspapers across the country in partnership with Media News Group Interactive.

You can see the reason for excitement; you can also immediately spot the limitations. "The country" for example - which country? The US, obviously! Are there any others? Not on NetModo. And 85 newspapers... isn't that rather a low number for the US? Yes, it is. It seems to be a select few, most of which have local-interest small-town news. Great for a social historian, but it's hardly going to help us find the August '85 edition of Byte, or Dr Dobbs or even the San Francisco Chronicle.

And it shows individual stories, not the snapshot of a day or a week which a paper magazine captures for history.

Of course, it may be a relief to some families to know that:

"NewsModo.com is also a 'safe' search environment. Because NewsModo only publishes professionally produced content and does not 'crawl the web' for content, parents and kids can be assured that a search on Newsmodo.com will only return content that has been published in a newspaper previously."

Because, as the proprietor of the archive points out: "This essentially eliminates the threat that some type of questionable photos or other unwelcome content will be displayed to unsuspecting eyes while perusing search results and articles on the site."

But what sort of "history" is it which doesn't record things that would embarrass sexually or religiously crippled individuals who want to prevent their babies from growing up?

Once upon a time, someone offered me all the back numbers of a particular tech magazine I had contributed to. He said: "I don't need it anymore. If I want to search for something I need to know, I Google it."

But what if you don't know you need to know it? What sort of records of the present are we actually keeping? What will historians of the future get to hear about contemporary reactions to stories of the day, without the benefit of hindsight?

Maybe, someone in the British Library ought to be solemnly printing out all the content on every news website every day, and storing them in boxes, labelled by date?

Meanwhile, you can do your bit. If you actually do have archive printed material, keep it. Also, if you find good website archives, let me know about them, and what they are good at, and I'll pass that on. I do think this may be quite an urgent mission. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Symantec backs out of Backup Exec: Plans to can appliance in Jan
Will still provide support to existing customers
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.