Delving into the Archives

I find my old blog on the internet archive, and I take a moment to look back on teenage me’s madness.

XKCD 2102 - Internet Archive
xkcd 2102: It really is crazy when you stop and think about it

Some history

Back in the days before the exodus, the My Opera community had a blogging platform, of which I was a semi-active member. Just prior to the service being shut down someone had the good sense of mind to capture the final resting state of the platform, as well as the blogs, and uploaded it to the internet archive.

In perusing this, I noticed that all of my old blog entries had been included in this dump. A quick search revealed that many of my other past social internet presences were also preserved for eternity.

My gut reaction to this was to nuke the whole thing, and as quickly as possible before anyone saw it. Who knows what content might be there? I certainly don’t remember, so it can’t be anything good. A quick reply to an email fired off to the archival team soon revealed a problem: They really care about archival.

The Internet Archive can exclude webpages from the Wayback Machine
(web.archive.org), but we first respectfully request that you help us
verify that you are/were the page/account owner or content author of [all URLs]

 

We would be grateful if you would help us preserve as much of the
archive as possible. Therefore, please let us know if there are only
specific URLs about which you are concerned so that we may leave the
rest of the archives available.

As you may know, Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library,
seeking to maintain via the Wayback Machine a freely accessible
historical record of the Internet. The material in the archives are not
exploited by Internet Archive for commercial profit.

The Internet Archive Team

So the archivists, the people whose profession is to keep things for good, think it should be kept up. They’re far better placed than me to make decisions about what is worth archiving, so I decide to take a dive into my old blog(s) and read through the posts I’ve made.

Diving deep

The first thing I notice is the poor taste and lack of decorum past me shows in regards to memes. This wasn’t that long ago, we’re talking no more than a decade. It still throws me off and yet, at the same time, I start to gain an appreciation for the work of the archive.

There is a large amount of cringe-inducing content, none of which I shall name specifically. If only to maintain my sanity. There’s also a fair amount of stuff which, reading back, sounds absolutely nonsensical and I have no idea what I’m going on about.

A lot of it is missing images, dead links and references to broken plugins. I guess even the internet archive can’t save everything, though not for lack of trying. I do still keep local and online backups of my own photography, so that isn’t lost, just the various images past me pulled from around the web.

Who knows what those images were… Oh, remember CISPA? Future people, remember Article 13?

I see mention of some people who I supposedly “connected” with in the past, some of whom are still familiar, some that have fell out of touch completely and others I have no recollection of ever interacting with.

I only vaguely recognise some of these avatars

A larger amount than I initially expected was actually not too bad. It’s not particularly great either, past me seemed to have a bit of a problem with grandiose wording, something I tone down a bit nowadays. Some of it actually has a nice insight in to the kinds of though processes I used to have. I come across a fair amount of interesting topics and photos I shared, as well as some neat software that I created.

Kittens! I guess whatever that video was is lost forever though

In one particular instance I find a custom tumblr theme which still works like a charm in the archive’s snapshot because I handled all the javascript myself instead of relying on external libraries – there’s a consideration I bet not a lot of web developers will consider. I also see references to little apps and widgets I had made. I’ve since moved most of these to GitHub, but I had forgotten about them until now.

The craziest part of all this is just how alien past me seems even though it wasn’t that long ago. Some of current me seems to bleed through past me’s stuff, but a lot of it just seems so strange. I find it a bit disconcerting in fact that in many cases I can’t remember making this stuff, and  in a few I can’t even re-connect with it.

Thanks to the Archive

All in all, despite my initial concerns about the terror of finding past me’s thoughts, I am glad this stuff got saved. Even in the short amount of time that has passed, its fascinating to dig up and inspect this stuff. Something that wouldn’t be possible without the archive.

I haven’t linked to any of past me’s content because it’s still rather private to present me. If you’re really desperate to snoop, nothing is stopping you, but I would still be happy for a large portion of these old posts to be lost in the archive. Still hanging around if I or someone else should be desperate for a look in the future, but not advertised with loads of links pointing to it. There’s something satisfying about digging something old up, even in a digital manner. I think I may reblog some of the content here, as it seems of a high enough quality to be worth sharing.

For the future? Who knows. I don’t plan on using the archive to make a stringent backup or anything – I keep backups for myself of just about everything I make nowadays anyway. It’s still nice to consider that if I or anyone else should come across something that they like, the internet archive is just a click away to keep a snapshot of it forever.

I’m glad that the archive gave me pause to think about what I was asking them to delete – and I’d recommend you to also consider saving stuff. Privately if you prefer, but knowing that it is still there for you to look back on will be a decision that future you welcomes greatly.

Related Work

This is my PhD stuff filtering through – always give some related work for the interested reader.

When I was going through some of my old bookmarks I notice one site, Tindeck – a music streaming service for indie artists in the vein of soundcloud, was dead. It pointed to the internet archive as a backup source.

I have recently come across another archival project. You know how I mentioned broken plugins earlier? Well a project called flashpoint is aiming to archive and keep playable all of the web’s flash/shockwave/java games and animations. Yes, all of them. It sounds crazy, but it exists and is worth checking out, if only for the nostalgia of being able to replay whatever flash game you whiled away hours on.

Join the Conversation

  1. Didn’t know you were also a MyOpera member… Cheers
    I lost interest when they made us log into disqus. Seemed like they’d lost something for them to that((?).
    Still used opera for many years afterward, like today.
    You also seem to have an interest in music. May I suggest: https://www.pondercast.ca/listen
    I have been listening to Laurie since she was at the CBC doing “The Signal”. Wonderful evening music to think, drive or read by. And great conversations, Many a night after overtime I would drive the hour commute listening, even conversing as she is such a great storyteller and conversationalist between the great music she played.
    On another subject, I heard along time back that the Internet Archive is a front for the CIA to gather everyone’s thoughts/ideas and archive them in one place… Do I hear “Conspiracy Theory”??? 😉

  2. I had forgotten about the social media side of Opera. I fondly remember the browser but I’m starting to regret not checking out the community back in the day.

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