Using Wayback Machine for Research

By Nicholas Taylor | October 31, 2012

Prompted by questions from Library of Congress staff on how to more effectively use web archives to answer research questions, I recently gave a presentation on “Using Wayback Machine for Research” (PDF). I thought that readers of The Signal might be interested in this topic as well. This post covers the outline of the presentation.

Wayback machine logoThe Wayback Machine that many people are familiar with is the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The Internet Archive is an NDIIPP partner and a Founding Member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium. Their mission includes creating an archive of the entire public web; the Wayback Machine is the interface for accessing it.

While the Internet Archive has been primarily responsible for the development of Wayback Machine, it is an open source project. Internet Archive also devised the name “Wayback Machine;” it is a reference to The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show’s homophonous “WABAC” Machine, a time machine itself named in the convention of mid-century mainframe computers (e.g., ENIAC, UNIVAC, MANIAC, etc.). The contemporary Wayback Machine thus appropriately evokes both the idea of traveling back in time and powerful computing technology (necessary for web archiving).

Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is just one among many, however; over half of the web archiving initiatives listed on Wikipedia provide access via Wayback Machine. It is the most common software used to “replay” the contents of ISO-standard Web ARChive (WARC) file containers.

Read original post here. (Originally posted October 26, 2012)