E1111: Brewster Kahle on archiving the entire Internet, protocols over platforms, microschools | Summary and Q&A

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September 18, 2020
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This Week in Startups
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E1111: Brewster Kahle on archiving the entire Internet, protocols over platforms, microschools

TL;DR

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, discusses the importance of preserving knowledge and building a global digital library.

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Key Insights

  • 🌐 The Internet Archive's mission is to make knowledge universally accessible and build a global digital library.
  • 😚 The archive faces challenges with copyright issues, publisher control, and the limitations of closed platforms.
  • πŸ˜€ Preserving software, including games and apps, is an ongoing effort by the Internet Archive.
  • πŸ§‘β€πŸŽ“ Micro schooling and personalized education options like pods can provide better learning experiences and engagement for students.

Transcript

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does the Internet Archive acquire content like magazines and movies?

The Internet Archive acquires content through web crawls, partnerships with libraries and museums, and user uploads. It also works with communities dedicated to preserving specific types of content, such as old games consoles.

Q: How does the Internet Archive handle requests from rights holders to take down content?

The Internet Archive assesses requests to take down content based on ownership rights. It aims to balance the need for access to knowledge with copyright considerations and strives to provide enduring access to the cultural record.

Q: How does the Internet Archive deal with archiving social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook?

The Internet Archive archives publicly accessible content from platforms like Twitter and Facebook. However, platforms like Facebook present challenges due to their constant changes and personalized user experiences. The archive does its best to preserve publicly accessible content and provide enduring access.

Q: How does the Internet Archive view software preservation?

The Internet Archive has made efforts to preserve software, including old games and programs. It has worked with communities and developed tools like JavaScript emulators to enable browser-based access to software. However, archiving apps and content from closed platforms like app stores is more challenging.

Summary

Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, discusses the mission and challenges of building a library of everything online. He talks about the importance of preserving and providing universal access to knowledge, the role of the Internet Archive in archiving web pages and cultural content, and the struggles with copyright holders and social media platforms. Kahle also highlights the success of archiving historic games and software, and advocates for open standards and protocols in maintaining an open and accessible internet.

Questions & Answers

Q: How would you describe your life's work and the mission of the Internet Archive?

The idea was to build a library of everything, to create a global brain and make all information accessible. It is inspired by the dream of having all knowledge and information at our fingertips, which has been a recurring theme in the technology era. The Internet Archive's mission is to provide universal access to all knowledge, allowing people to learn, build, and share based on existing resources.

Q: How does the Internet Archive acquire content, such as magazines and movies?

The Internet Archive acquires content through web crawling, where it collects information from the World Wide Web. Users can also upload content to the archive, expanding its collection. Some content, like magazines and movies, may come from collaborations with communities dedicated to archiving specific materials. The archive aims to provide a comprehensive collection of different formats and genres.

Q: How does the Internet Archive deal with copyright and takedown requests?

The Internet Archive faces challenges related to copyright and takedown requests. It adheres to the principles of fair use and makes efforts to respect copyright holders' rights. When copyright issues arise, the archive assesses the ownership of the material and acts accordingly. It also collaborates with publishers and platforms to find a balance between preservation and respecting intellectual property rights.

Q: What have been the challenges in archiving social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook?

Archiving social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook presents unique challenges due to their dynamic and personalized nature. The Internet Archive tries to archive publicly accessible content on these platforms, but it may be difficult to capture every piece of information. Platforms like Facebook constantly change, making archiving more complex. The archive archives what it can and aims to provide enduring access to the cultural record while acknowledging the limitations and evolving nature of the platforms.

Q: How does the Internet Archive approach archiving software and video games?

The Internet Archive started by working with communities dedicated to preserving old software and video games. Through partnerships and collaborations, the archive made progress in emulating old platforms like Apple II, Commodore 64, and IBM PC in web browsers using JavaScript. Users can experience these old systems and play games through the archive's emulation technology. However, archiving newer apps and proprietary software is challenging due to closed systems and lack of standards.

Q: How does the Internet Archive financially sustain its operations?

The Internet Archive is funded through a combination of sources. It receives support from libraries, museums, and organizations that contribute funds for archiving web pages. Grants from foundations and donations from users, following a similar model to Wikipedia and NPR, are also crucial. The archive aims to be as useful and accessible as possible, relying on the goodwill of its users and the community to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Q: How does the Internet Archive address the app revolution and the impermanence of content on platforms like Snapchat and TikTok?

The Internet Archive sees apps and closed platforms as potential obstacles to preserving content. Open standards and protocols are integral to maintaining an open and accessible internet. Closed platforms, like iPhones, limit linkability between apps and control content availability. The archive advocates for protocols instead of platforms and prioritizes open and commons-based structures to preserve content for future generations.

Takeaways

Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, envisions building a library of everything to provide universal access to knowledge. The archive's mission includes preserving web pages, cultural content, magazines, movies, and software. While navigating copyright issues and challenges posed by social media and closed platforms, the archive aims to ensure enduring access to the cultural record. By supporting open standards and protocols, the Internet Archive seeks to maintain an open and accessible internet, encouraging collaboration and continued expansion of the commons.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Brewster Kahle's life's work is centered around building a library of everything, making knowledge universally accessible.

  • The Internet Archive, known for its Wayback Machine, aims to provide access to all published content and preserve it for future generations.

  • The archive faces challenges with copyright issues and the increasing control of publishers and social media platforms over content.

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