Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lost and Not Found.

This afternoon I was trying to find a couple of old webpages so I could read some text files on them. Despite being fairly good at hunting down webpages I couldn't find them, so presumably they've been deleted. Unfortunately there's as yet no real way to get access to defunct pages when you don't know the URLs. There is the Internet Archive, which offers the Wayback Machine, but to access a webpage you need to know its URL. They don't offer a text search engine as yet, assuming its even possible. Nor is the setup perfect, as much of a webpage's content won't be displayed in many cases, especially for older pages. Still, its better than nothing.

On the other hand it sometimes surprises me the stuff that has stayed online despite its age. Last month marked my tenth year online. I recently found a page that I first looked at fairly early after I got online. It probably hasn't been updated in close to 10 years, but its still on a server someplace. I think it was on an university server, so you'd think it would have been deleted long ago.

My initial activities online were via the Saskatoon Freenet, which I still use for my e-mail. It was a text only service, which made for some rather interesting browsing if you wanted to look at any graphics on a website. To do so you literally had to download them to your computer, and this was using a 56K or whatever modem I had on the computer at the time over phone lines. I spent a lot of time sitting in front of my computer watching a picture slowly download, then looking on my harddrive to see what I'd actually grabbed. Still, Internet access was Internet access, and the size and amount of data on a typical website at the time was a fraction of what many sites these days probably waste just on cutesy Flash animations and so on.

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