Ghosts in the Machine

Still in Obregon, doing a bit of online research before heading to Hermosillo, and I've discovered a few tools that may be useful if you're ever in the third world trying to see environmental projects. Twice this week I've come across very clear links to websites that no longer exist. This often happens when an organization either stops paying for their web domain or switches to a new one. But all hope is not lost! The cool thing about living in the future is that once something is online, it is almost impossible to delete it completely.

Two ways to recover a dead page are to use the Google cache and the Internet Archive. The Google cache is a lot easier to explain and to use, but may only work if the site has died recently. Google scans the web in order to search it, and it makes little copies of everything it finds (I think it exludes pictures and video to save space). That little copy is the cache, and it gets continually updated as Google makes new scans of the web. To use the Cache, just search for the site you want, make sure the link is still broken, then go back and click the "cached" link under the google result.

The Internet Archive is another beast altogether. Its a project meant to preserve the fleeting, ever changing information on the Internet by taking regular "snapshots." As such, it can not only show you what a site looked like before it went down, it can show you what that site looked like four years ago, or 6, or even ten! It does require a little more web saavy to use, but its totally worth it.

Go to the Internet Archive in one window (or tab, tabs are infinetly better) and your dead link in another. Copy the address from the dead link and paste it into the "Wayback Machine" box in the archive. Once you click, you should see a list of links that look like dates. Click around through these until you find one that works and PRESTO! You've got yourself a zombie website!


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