Go back in Time – for real! (No Dr Who spoilers :-))

So…true story. I found an awesome research article yesterday. What made it especially awesome was that it referred to a paper which looked EVEN MORE awesome! I know, sometimes I get excited about strange things.

The reference list even had a url for this most awesome article, which happened to be a conference paper delivered in 2010. I clicked on the link and….404! Page Not Found! Noooooo!

Normally, this would be enough to make anyone throw up their hands in frustration and decide that the day was better spent binge watching Netflix. But not for me. I had a secret weapon up my sleeve – and it is called the Wayback Machine.

Screencapture created by author. Click image to access Wayback Machine.
Screencapture created by author. Click image to access Wayback Machine.

The Wayback Machine is part of the Internet Archive project, which is an amazing non-profit, aiming to build a complete internet library. There is lots to see on the Internet Archive, and I encourage you to explore it some time, however the Wayback Machine is what I always return to. As you can see in the image above, it has saved over 487 billion pages, and these are accessible via a simple search using their tool.

So, this morning when I had a url which led to a 404 page, I went to the Wayback Machine, pasted in the url and low and behold, the page had been saved! I clicked on the date it was most recently updated, and was able to access the formerly inaccessible page. This is awesome if you know of a great site or resource that then disappears overnight, or if, like me, you want to access something that is ephemeral, like a conference website or newspaper article. Please note, not EVERY search will be successful, but the odds are in your favour, and it is certainly better than nothing!

The Wayback machine is also fantastic for teaching students how to check the history of a website if there are any doubts as to its credibility, and it also is really interesting to see how sites have developed over time. Look at Pinterest from 2010!

Screencapture created by author.
Screencapture created by author.

So don’t forget about the Wayback Machine next time you encounter a pesky 404. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks this #blogjune!

2 thoughts on “Go back in Time – for real! (No Dr Who spoilers :-))

  1. Annie

    Thanks for reminding me about this great site, Kay. I had used it years ago and completely forgotten about it. (mental note to self – bookmark site on Delicious and Livebinders!!)

    1. KayO

      It is a terrific one to have up your sleeve! Unfortunately there are so many great tools that it is all too easy for one to slip off the radar – curation really is so important! 🙂

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