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The Web, It's Temporary
biblecookiesmilk
hoodcity
A few days ago, I plugged in the computer I had when I moved to Chicago back in '98. A 200Mhz Pentium I running Windows 98 w/ 48 MB of RAM, a 3.5" floppy drive and a read-only CD drive. It served me pretty well --I was able to go broadband with it around Oct. 1999, and burned my first mix CD's with it using an external Iomega. I retired it in 2002, and hadn't touched it since then. Recently though, I got to thinking that it'd make for a fun time capsule opening to plug it back in, and see what forgotten photographs, pr0n, mp3's, saved IM conversations, etc. were in suspended animation on its 3 GB hard drive.

It started back up with no problems --the clock even set itself to the correct date, though the time was inexplicably off by about 20 minutes. Found a bunch of old pics, which I'm in the process of transferring to 3.5" floppies (still had a sealed box of Verbatim diskettes --don't know when I got em, but there's no URL's anywhere on the packaging), which I'll then transfer to my current floppy-less machine via an intermediary.

Then I thought I'd start up Netscape Communicator for shits and gigs. This machine isn't connected to my network, so I jumped like I'd seen a ghost when it loaded the cnn.com homepage. Turns out, it was just the cache that was still in memory from April 27, 2002, the last time I'd used the computer. Four settlers had been killed in the West Bank, three people had been killed in a Nevada casino shooting, Bush was pushing for "more authority on trade" and Anna Kournikova's agent was denying that she'd ever posed nude. What I was trying to get at though was four years of archived email, from my old enteract.com account. It was all still there. Spent a good couple of hours on the phone with johntheobscure going over hundreds of emails that we shot back and forth in the weeks following 9/11/2001, reflecting on what was going on in the world and how it impacted where we were living (Boston and Chicago). It's a hell of an archive, containing a lot of forgotten stories, speculation that has come to pass, and a lot more that thankfully didn't.

I'm glad to have that archive, glad that I had a real ISP that allowed me to download all of my email to own computer, instead of an .edu, AOL, or 2 MB hotmail account, like most people I knew had back then, which would've turned out to be a lot more ephemeral. We take for granted that everything on the Internet will always be around, cached somewhere, that google or yahoo or the wayback machine will always be there for us, but that's not the case. Demonstrably not the case --google has stripped DejaNews's Usenet archive of almost all usability, and just last month, Yahoo! --as if anyone needed one more reason to despise them --pulled the plug on GeoCities and along with it millions of pages early web history. It's not like keeping those old sites up was hurting Yahoo; if its got the money for a ridiculous, widely-panned $100 million ad campaign, certainly it's got the money to maintain some of the web's most important early history. The fact that it chose not to, and in fact chose to affirmatively delete it puts Yahoo on par with those who torched the library at Alexandria. Accordingly, I am done with Yahoo. Now to figure out how to download all my other email from its fickle servers.

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Awe man. I had an early web page on GeoCities that I'd always hoped would be "floating around somewhere." Stupid Yahoo.

Did you check the wayback machine (http://www.archive.org/index.php) yet? If it's not there, at least two separate teams of independent archivists were racing to back up as many geocities pages as they could before yahoo pulled the plug. Not sure when those archives will be made publically accessible, but glad to know they're out there!

Mark my words, Murdoch will do the same with myspace someday.

I think you're on to something. Maybe instead of bulky time-capsules we can start burying our old hard drives. But I've got even scarier material - on my old games CD shelf are such titles as "Unreal" and "Tomb Raider" ... not sequels, either. Half of them run in DOS. If they get any older they'll actually become valuable again as collectibles.

I still have my old Commodore 64 games, including pirated ones on BASF 5-inch floppies--and I still have the C-64, too! Never give up the ship!

On the downside, I've found some of my beloved PC games from as recently as 7 years ago are already showing kinks and quirks on my Vista machine...so much for MS's legendary retroactive OS's.

HoodCity and I may have overlooked the very real possibility that the NSA has archived everyone's e-mails for posterity--*especially* our 9/11 ones... It will be fun reading for the Chinese archaeologists of the future when they dig up the remains of the American empire...

I was thinking of starting a video game museum :D

In glorious workers' paradise of Democratic People's Republic of Korea, all arcades feature are video game museums!

http://www.ukresistance.co.uk/2008/09/inside-north-korean-arcade.html

that's awesome. i have an old tower i've attempted to just re-cycle but don't for fear of losing the pr0n and my possible face attached to said pr0n :o)

Man, what an awesome time capsule that will be for the funnylagirl of 2046 to come across someday! Don't recycle, but rather back it up.

(Also, feel free to post said pr0ns, sans-face if necc)

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