Our rescue effort is not unlike restoring an old building. Sites go through a series of changes
over time and one of our challenges is to restore the original design and
intent, while fixing obvious
flaws. Out-of-date links are updated, but old email addresses are often kept the same. We
usually add a bit of history, no different than putting a restoration plaque on the front of
a restored church or a historical saloon. Throughout the effort, we try and preserve the
look-and-feel of the site while restoring it to full operation.
"Digital conservation" may sound like an oxymoron given the
transitory nature of information associated with the mainstream Web
today. The reality is that a wealth of quality Internet content has
been in existence even before Tim Berners-Lee introduced us all to
the possibilities of the Web. For example, Geek
of the Week which began life as the first radio program on the
Internet used FTP and (believe it or not) email for the distribution
of 30 megabyte audio files. (An interesting footnote: One of Tim Berners-Lee's
pet peeves are people who put a URL on-line and then move it.)
Fortunately, we aren't
alone in our feeling that the digital medium needs to be nurtured
There is a growing faction of the web development community concerned
with the promotion of quality independent content.
Many feel that if these sites
aren't supported (financially or otherwise) they may quickly become
In terms of preservation, one of the most
most ambitious efforts is spearheaded by
Brewster Kahle. The Internet Archive is building
a series of snapshots over time of publically accessible Internet sites. This huge library
will no doubt be an invaluable tool to researchers.
Being a small, independent organization, we haven't the means at this
time to restore the entire web, so instead we focus in on the sites
we built over
Some of our sites have taken on a life of their own, while others
live on the net in their original state without any
active maintenance, part of what we call the World Wide Cobweb.
We collect all these works in our museum.
Rather than bemoan limited resources, we use the talents and tools at our
disposal to conserve and change our digital corner of the world.