Friday, February 03, 2006

Online is a medium without history

But this might change within two weeks, when the European version of Internet Archive will start as This is clear from an interview of Tonie van Ringelestijn with Julien Masanes published on the Emerce site. The objective is to start a digital archive of the most valuable public domain internet content in Europe.

The site will store many hundreds of performances of classical music older than 50 years, which are published under the creative commons licenses. Later on this month hundreds of British promotion movies and BBC material will be downloadable, but also the sites of the European Union and governments websites. Also the Dutch Image and Sound Institute of the Public Broadcast Organisation, a kind of broadcast museum, will put up some early stuff under creative commons license.

The European Internet Archive is an initiative of the American and, a subsidiary of the Dutch telco KPN. The Foundation European Digital Archive is based in Amsterdam. XS4ALL offers 200 terabyte for space.

This is really good news. Of course it will be only a start and a small selection. And the 200 terabyte will be consumed in a short time. The American counterpart has now 500 terabyte with 500 billion webpages from 50 million websites. The Wayback Archive offers the 66.000 visitors to the site 15.000 movies, 35.000 concerts, thousands of lectures, 24.000 texts and 34.000 programs.

I think that this is a great initiative. As I am presently working on a history of online publication, I would sometimes like to go back to original sites. So far I have been able to go back with the Wayback Machine in time till 1996. I saw the rather primitive pages without pictures of some Dutch sites, but I could not find back my 1995 column for the Intermediair site Cyberia. But I guess nothing is left of the period between 1992 and 1996, when internet was introduced in the Netherlands. Perhaps some single pages, but certainly no site that works, let alone the links. Of the stone age of online between 1968 and 1996 not much if anything is left; perhaps some ASCII and videotext pages, photographs of machines, but no interactive programs. Online is so far a medium without history.


No comments: