We hear it said repeatedly, so it’s generally taken at face value – The Internet is forever; Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever; Everything posted online is there forever, even after it’s been deleted.
Forever, of course, is – until the end of time. I can’t really get my head around “until the end of time” – so, I’ll stick with “the foreseeable future”. That’s a concept I can work with.
Despite the fact that “it’s out there forever” is commonly believed – I’ve yet to see verifiable evidence that it’s true in all instances. In the short term – OK, I’ll buy into this. So should those who like to air opinion, perspectives and their dirty laundry (intentional, or not), on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on.
But long term – as in “forever” – balderdash! I say this, having had the experience of writing and posting a series of articles to a blog in which I documented my experience in dealing with a “crazy neighbor”.
Having resolved the issue to my satisfaction (shining a light on aberrant behavior was worth the effort), I took the site down. Within 12 months, no references to the site, the neighbor (who was repeatedly named), or the issues brought to light, were indexed anywhere on the Internet. So much for “forever”, or even “the foreseeable future”, for that matter.
It’s fair to say though, that in the example I’ve used here, the situation was within my control. Just as deleting my Facebook page back in 2007 was within my control. Again, no references to this deleted page are available on the Internet. However, that page is still being stored on a Facebook server and is available to me – should I chose to access it.
On the other hand – references that are outside my control (or yours), are another matter. Let’s say, for example, that I choose to shut down this blog. As opposed to deleting the “crazy neighbor” blog, mentioned previously, which disappeared without a trace – Tech Thoughts would not disappear – it would leave traces – substantial traces at that. The Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” has made sure of that.
Quoting the site: “The Internet Archive Wayback Machine puts the history of the World Wide Web at your fingertips. Browse through over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.
To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available. The resulting pages point to other archived pages at as close a date as possible.”
Here’s an example –
The Wayback Machine has indexed this site (Tech Thoughts), 163 times …..
going back to November 10, 2007 – as shown below.
A capture dated December 3, 2008. A pretty gaudy theme but……..
not quite as “in your face” as I progressed through my colorful phase……
before getting down to serious business.
The Internet Archive – of which the Wayback machine is just one component – is full of surprises, and is definitely worth a visit. Some of the available resources include:
Moving Images – 635,268 movies.
Live Music Archive – 100,665 concerts.
Audio – 1,210,381 recordings.
Texts – 3,331,892 texts.