You might have heard about The Internet Archive. It’s that dusty place on the web for all digital artifacts. It’s not a tomb, but a cache of knowledge that makes up our digital experience.
Its web crawlers collect data from all corners of the web to build an historical collection that we can browse for free anytime. If you think that’s a usable bit of work, then you will like what the Wayback Machine Chrome extension can do.
The Wayback Machine Chrome extension detects dead web pages and gives you the option to view an archived version of the page.
Imagine it in action. A website with a 404 error or a Page Not Found message can be an annoyance. A slightly dated but still relevant version of the webpage is the next best option. The extension checks the Wayback Machine to see if there is anything in its archives. If the answer is yes, you’ll be asked to click and view the most recently archived version.
Imagine it on a legal site where the historical information can be still relevant. Or a website which was once a host for niche information not served by Google on its first page. A 2013 Harvard study found that 49% of the URLs referenced in U.S. Supreme Court decisions are now dead.
The value of preserving these nuggets of digital gold dust cannot be overstated. The Wayback Machine Chrome extension works to prevent the leakage of knowledge through link rot and other common web breakdowns.
Mark Graham, the Director of The Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive says in the introductory blog post:
For the past 20 years, the Internet Archive has recorded and preserved webpages, and hundreds of billions of them are available via the Wayback Machine. This is good because we are learning the web is fragile and ephemeral.
Install the extension and try it out with this test URL. Or the next “Page Not Found” error you want to counter.
Come back here and tell us if it adds another feather to the usability of The internet Archive and The Wayback Machine.
Image Credit: Zhitkov Boris via Shutterstock.com