While showering this morning an old radio jingle popped into my head.. "When the values go up, up, up... and the prices go down, down down.." I couldn't remember where that was from, though I realized later that what resurrected it was that I was thinking about getting dressed.. that was from Robert Hall Clothing, a popular chain store of my youth. The full jingle:
When values go up, up, up, And prices go down, down, down, Robert Hall this season Will show you the reason: Low overhead, Low overhead.
Apparently my subconscious thinks I need new clothes.. but never mind that: the only reason I was able to give you the rest of the jingle was because of the Web: I just typed what I remembered and instantly had a number of leads to follow, and those ultimately brought me to a 1949 Time Magazine article. Without the web, I might not have found that at all..
Well, that's not true. I could have asked my wife, though she's always a bit upset when I'm getting dressed because I can't be trusted to pick out colors that "go" together - whatever that means.. and I'm apt to forget to brush my hair too, so she's usually too busy watching and checking me to answer silly questions about old radio jingles. But still, you get my point: the web is a wonderful resource for history, isn't it?
By the way, in the course of tracking that down, I found this resource: The "Jingle Hall of Fame", and while I was looking at that another 50's jingle came unbidden to my conscious mind: "There's something about a Muntz TV, in oh so many ways.." (see for the story of "Madman Muntz" if you are much under sixty).
OK, what's the boring old codger's point? Just this: this stuff is all part of history. This post, this website, every comment, is also. So is every other website, and just about all of it is being archived somewhere, but there's no guarantee of that. The Wayback Machine has crawled and stored two billion web pages, but as they say:
With the rapid growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web, millions of people have grown accustomed to using these tools as resources to acquire information; and the availability of electronic information is taken for granted. However, it is a fallacy that if something is on the web, it will be there forever. The average lifespan of a web page is 44 -75 days. There's an urgent need for people to understand that that web is who we are. It's our culture and our social fabric, and we don't want to lose any of it. What is here today might be gone tomorrow. .. Most societies place importance on preserving artifacts of their culture and heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. Our culture now produces more and more artifacts in digital form. The Archive's mission is to help preserve those artifacts and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars. The Archive collaborates with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian.
Anything you write on the web could be of historical importance to someone at some time in the future. Anything, no matter how trivial and unimportant it may seem to you now. Anything you read on the web may or may not be saved, but you can be sure it is by doing one of three things: ( from Wayback Machine FAQs)
Alexa Internet has been crawling the web since 1996, which has resulted in a massive archive. If you have a web site, and you would like to ensure that it is saved for posterity in the Internet Archive, and you've searched wayback and found no results, you can visit the Alexa's "Webmasters" page at https://pages.alexa.com/help/webmasters/index.html#crawl_site. Method 2: if you have the Alexa tool bar installed, just visit a site. Method 3: while visiting a site, use the 'show related links' in Internet Explorer, which uses the Alexa service. Sites are usually crawled within 24 hours and no more than 48. Right now there is a 6-12 month lag between the date a site is crawled and the date it appears in the Wayback Machine.
Think about this: hundreds of years from now, some would-be historian will do their Doctoral thesis on "The Early Web". That's us, you know - you, me, all the other nuts with web pages and all the people who comment at those pages. We are "the early web". If you are or have been part of it, your contributions may be around for a long, long time.
This site started in 1997, though I had been doing "personal" web pages at Software Tool and Die for a while before that. A 1999 page from this site is available at the Wayback Machine if you want to see how bad it looked then..
If you don't have a website or a blog, think about this as a reason why you should. You'd be contributing to history, and you will have given yourself some kind of immortality.. worth doing, I think.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-03-13 Anthony Lawrence
Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place. So if you're as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it? (Brian Kernighan)