Friday, October 25, 2013

Instant WayBack URL

Last night I attended festivities at the Internet Archive where they made a number of announcements about projects and improvements. One that particularly struck me was the ability to push a page to the WayBack Machine and instantly get a permanent WayBack URL for that page. This is significant in a number of ways but the main advantages I see are:
  1. putting permalinks in your documents rather that URLs that can break
  2. linking to a particular version of a document when citing
You will not want to use this technique if you are intending to link to, for example, a general home page where you want your link always to go to the current version of that page. But if you are quoting something, or linking to a page that you think has a limited lifetime, this ability will make a huge difference.

When you go to the WayBack machine (whose home page has changed considerably) you will see this option:

Once you provide the URL, the system echoes back the WayBay machine URL for that page at that moment in time:

You can also view the page on the WayBack machine, to make sure you captured the right one:
The page is available through the URL immediately, and will be available through the regular WayBack machine index within hours. This has great implications for scholarship and for news reporting. Note that the WayBack Machine will not capture pages that are closed to crawlers, so if you are on a commercial site, this probably will not work. I'm still very enthused about it.

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