Thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine I have recovered over 3600 web posts dating back to 1996. I’m not done yet, but I’m getting into the detective phase of recovery. This means using all the of the tools the Wayback Machine provides for recovery.
For instance, though you get a timeline of snapshots when you search on a domain, such as weblog.burningbird.net, you can get a listing of individual pages by using the wildcard (*), such as weblog.burningbird.net/*. By doing this, I’ve been able to recover seemingly lost writings if there’s a break in navigation between pages.
Considering that I never could make up my mind how I want to display pages—under archives for a time, by year and month another time, by subdomain, separate domain, by burningbird.net others—I’ve made liberal use of the wildcard in my recovery.
Lately, I brought in a new tool: the Ruby-based program wayback_machine_downloader. I’ve tested it in both Ubuntu and Windows, and it works beautifully.
I’ve given it both domain and subdomains and bulk downloaded most of the content the Internet Archive has archived from my sites. In some cases, where I no longer control the domain, I use the –to program modifier to grab just my content and not the content of the new domain owner.
I now have a backup copy of what the Wayback Machine has, and I’ve been able to recover pages more quickly. For instance, I able to recover a fragment of a 2003 post using this approach:
We Met. We talked. We expanded. And then the Net closed in. We reduced. We compacted. The energy was too much, the space too tiny, and we burst forth with wit, despair, beauty and brilliance, laughter, anger, tears, and, ultimately, cat.
We never forget cat. Cat is our anchor when our heads float too high, and we begin to think we’re Gods on a Wire, like pigs on a stick.
It is true that many of the recovered posts will never be read by another living soul in the future. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is I’ll finally have all my stuff in one place.
And I’m having fun. The Wayback Machine and all the tools that work with it are just a kick to use. The people behind this site and the tools are the most generous folk.
I’ll have more details on my Hunt for Burningbird at a future time. I just wanted to provide a quick update. I also wanted to test out the latest update of the ActivityPub plug-in, since it’s creator is now part of the WordPress team.