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The Internet Archive

While at a meeting in the Golden Gate Club building in the Presidio in San Francisco, I was gazing directly at the headquarters of the Internet Archive, housed in Building 4. My mind kept wandering to the incredible resource that was created and delivered within that structure and knew I had to go there right after my session was over.

So you have an appreciation of why I was so compelled to go there and the resource the internet archive represents, a little background is in order and they describe their mission on their ’about’ page:

Libraries exist to preserve society’s cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it’s essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world. Many early movies were recycled to recover the silver in the film.

The Library of Alexandria - an ancient center of learning containing a copy of every book in the world - was eventually burned to the ground. Even now, at the turn of the 21st century, no comprehensive archives of television or radio programs exist. But without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. And paradoxically, with the explosion of the Internet, we live in what Danny Hillis has referred to as our “digital dark age”.

“The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical significance - and other “born-digital” materials from disappearing into the past. Collaborating with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, we are working to preserve a record for generations to come.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit was founded in 1996 and the volume of digitized content is quietly being amassed by the volunteers and staff dedicated to what many of us believe is one of the most worthwhile endeavors for future generations. 

Founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996 – since he clearly saw the danger of our history, culture and knowledge slipping away in to the digital ether – to serve as a permanent archive of digital work such as Web pages, music, books, software programs, and make it all available free to scholars and researchers.

It’s fascinating to go through the archive, especially moving images, and see old television commercials, films, and even shows like Computer Chronicles, a public broadcasting show that is an incredible record of the personal computer revolution, and the Archive continues to push for open content which you can use to augment curriculum.

We have to put the best we have in front of our children,” is the first comment made in Mr. Kahle’s TED talk which I’ve embedded below and it will give you a sense of why he founded the Archive and its meaning:

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Accelerating Change are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.