Down the digital rabbit hole

Internet Archive

Though sometimes mistaken for a Grateful Dead database, the Internet Archive is truly a universal digital library for the masses. A nonprofit venture based in San Francisco, the Internet Archive exists as one of the most diverse collections of websites and cultural artifacts maintained in a digital format.

Founded by computer engineer Brewster Kahle in 1996, the archive contains a seemingly infinite digital collection of websites, music, pictures, videos and nearly 3 million public-domain books.

My first visit was little like falling down a rabbit hole. A few hours later, I had viewed, among other things, Iranian 2009-era blogs and a Remington typewriter commercial shown during a 1958 episode of Leave It to Beaver.

Archived content comprises snapshots of the Web through time (check out the appropriately named Wayback Machine search tool). There's also video, (mostly noncommercial movies, including some home movies), audio, performances (all those Grateful Dead clips, for example; but I dug a great Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers show from 2009) and texts (such as the feasibility study of Kings County from a 1968 California state water project). There's also the corresponding Open Library ( where one can read or borrow classic books (the site boasts more than 1,000 available e-book titles).

By trying to prevent websites and other digital forms from disappearing through the preservation of just about everything, the Internet Archive makes for a helluva place to pass the time.