It all began with an article that came through the news feed feature on the CCF site. The Article, Too Often Educators' Online Links Lead to Nowhere, [121k PDF file], picked our interest and introduced us to the term "link rot." We'd encountered this troublesome phenomenon before. Now we had a name for it. This article confirms what we've known all along. Link rot, "has turned the web into the world's biggest piece of Swiss cheese: appetizing, but full of holes." Helpful links you find and bookmark are not there when you go back to them months later. The articles and often the sites themselves have been taken down and you're left with a "page cannot be found" error message.
It's been said that necessity is the mother of invention. The Internet Archive is an online preservation project. It allows Web users to resurrect dead links by accessing archived versions of old Web pages through their WayBack Machine. Working in collaboration with Alexa Internet, the WayBack Machine "makes it possible to surf more than 10 billion pages stored in the Internet Archive's web archives." Talk about finding the mother-load!
Here's how The WayBack Machine works. You have a site you have bookmarked on your computer. It must have been a good site or you would not have bookmarked it. Now when you click on it you get a "page cannot be found" message. Thanks to the WayBack Machine all you do is:
Copy the link that's getting you nowhere,
- Go to the WayBack Machine site, http://www.archive.org/index.php, and paste the dead-end link you copied onto the URL search box on the page
- Click "take me back."
Their search engine takes you to a freeze-frame picture of that page that has been archived for posterity. Click through the results that come back to see if any of them would come close to what you think it was you bookmarked. Sometimes the results that come up are dead ends themselves but the beauty of the WayBack Machine is that it at least gives you one more chance of recapturing what has since been taken off line. You can then print it or save it as a PDF file for future use.
The Internet Archive offers much more than mere URL search capabilities, vast as these may be. It also "is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, they provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public." Besides being able to search for a particular URL (using their WayBack Machine) you can also access the various collections listed on the site.
One collection in particular, The International Children's Library, caught our eyes and we've posted an entire article on it. This find alone makes it worthwhile for you to bookmark the Internet Archive site onto your list of favorites!