Now is the Time to Preserve the History of Government (and More) on the Internet –The WayBack Machine

Very few people know about the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.  It is an amazing tool, which lets you look at the history of websites, that is to say how they have looked over time.

Here, picking an example totally at random, is the history of the Department of Justice Access to Justice Program Website.

Here is part of the page, which acts as a gateway into all the dates that have been captured.


Using this, you can see what many many sites looked like in the past.  Here, for example, is the first capture of that site, performed in November 2010, when Larry Tribe was still head of the Access Office.


This may turn out to be a particularly important tool as government data may be less reliably permanent in the time to come.

The system even includes a tool to capture a website as of now,, for future precise and reliable citation.  (This only works with sites that allow crawlers.)

I would strongly encourage anyone dealing with governments that might change their histories and commitments to use this tool to trap and keep the history.  It can also be used to prove the public positions that corporations have taken or implied.

It is almost as if we were to discover that the Memory Hole in 1984 in fact kept a history, rather than burned everything.  (Now there is a nice idea for a novel.  It would make all the Stasi revelations seem like child’s play.)



About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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