Using the Wayback Machine to Understand the Cultural Roots of New Technologies

Created on November 12, 2023 at 10:15 am

As an academic librarian helping connect students and faculty with the research materials they need, Sanjeet Mann PERSON has turned to the Internet Archive many times.

“I really value having the Wayback Machine ORG as an additional tool in my librarian’s toolbox,” Mann PERSON said. “Information preservation is an essential, but often overlooked, part of the infrastructure for teaching and learning.”

Mann PERSON , currently working as the Systems & Discovery Librarian at California State University ORG , San Bernardino GPE ( CSUSB ORG ), said he first ORDINAL learned about the value of the Internet Archive in 2006 DATE during his library science master’s program.

Over his career, Mann PERSON has worked at various libraries, tapping into the Archive ORG on the job.

Assisting budding writers, composers and artists as Arts Librarian ORG at University of Redlands ORG , Mann PERSON found that the vast amount of free information online, including biographies, can shape students’ projects.

“We can draw on the Archive ORG whenever we need inspiration for creative work, or when we need to understand how current scholarship and the issues that we’re facing now aren’t completely new—they’re based on this history of work by scholars, by politicians, by citizens active in the public interest,” he said. “These issues tend to recur over time. As a society, we need to know where we have been in order to meet the challenges of the future.”

At CSUSB ORG , Mann PERSON also helps computer science and business students use the Archive ORG ’s collections to better understand the cultural roots of new technologies—the historical context for their innovations.

“It is the only entity I’m aware of that preserves the Internet’s scholarly and historical record at this scale,” Mann PERSON said.

“I really value having the Wayback Machine ORG as an additional tool in my librarian’s toolbox.” Sanjeet Mann PERSON , librarian

On a practical note, Mann PERSON leveraged information through the Wayback Machine ORG when he was researching how to set up a campus laptop loaner program for University of Redlands ORG . This can be an essential service that libraries provide students who have trouble with their computers.

Mann PERSON wanted to understand policies at other universities, such as how they handled the return of damaged laptops. Looking at archived versions of university library websites through the Wayback Machine ORG , Mann PERSON was able to learn about other approaches and find contacts to follow up for additional details.

The Internet Archive ORG is a source to verify information that is no longer listed on websites, he said.

“Companies themselves don’t have any incentive to archive the history of their website. New products get launched. The platform gets migrated from one CARDINAL platform to another,” Mann PERSON said. “An organization like the Internet Archive ORG , being a library, is uniquely positioned to meet the need in society of ensuring some kind of continuity of memory and having a public record. Especially with the government being very partisan these days DATE , I think there’s value in the Internet Archive being an independent, not-for-profit that operates in the public interest.”

Mann PERSON added: “ Without the Archive WORK_OF_ART , we would lose decades DATE of information about our society at a crucial turning point in its development, eroding trust in online systems and requiring educators, students and researchers to reconsider the way we do our work and share it with others.”

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