Thursday July 7, 2011

Browsing back in time

The Iraq War: Wikipedia Historiography

The Iraq War: Wikipedia Historiography – from a twelve-volume set of all changes to the Wikipedia article on the Iraq War.

Like an underground resistance, the internet is almost impossible to destroy. The distributed nature of its infrastructure ensures that the whole keeps operating when individual servers and local networks drop off the grid.

But websites come and go.

The author might not have paid their hosting bill, they may even have expired. Or the business has gone broke. The webserver is down for maintenance. An organisational reshuffle has seen information incorporated into other content.

That page you accessed last week or last month is no longer there.

What do you do?

A simple first stop might be Google. Search for the page and click on the ‘Cached’ link to retrieve what Google indexed when it last visited.

Search for mosman electronic resources and click ‘Cached’ on the top result. Today I get a version of the page from 4 July 2011. Google’s cache is quite shallow (up to 3 months apparently).

More robut is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Enter the URL http://www.mosman.nsw.gov.au/library/information/databases into the Wayback Machine, click ‘Show all’ and you can view 25 versions of the page going back to August 31, 2007.

Here’s the Mosman Council website in 1999.

PANDORA is Australia’s Web Archive, established by the National Library of Australia in 1996. It can also take you back in time like the Wayback Machine. Naturally it’s focused on sites of Australian significance. But it doesn’t have Mosman Library.

Note that some bookmarking services, like Diigo, have a ‘read later’ feature that can provide accessibility insurance over the course of your project. And Wikipedia allows you to view all changes to an article over time if you click on the tab ‘View history’.

But if that ‘lost content’ still eludes you, more traditional research techniques may be in your future.

— Posted by Bernard D, Internet Coordinator in  |  Permalink

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