TED Conversations

Adrian Grassi

This conversation is closed.

An internet snapshot should be saved daily for historical preservation.

The internet is a great historical tool which is currently being wasted.
Every day millions if not billions of entries are removed/replaced and even deleted from the internet. Every time that happens we are throwing away a piece of our history.
Imagine being able to look back to today 1000 years from now and have an accurate historical record. That's what we won't be able to do because there isn't a effort to save this amazing historical record.
Would be great if we could search a database that accurately depicted event which occurred 2000 years ago? How many times in the history has history been rewritten and even destroyed?
New compression algorithm would have to be developed in order to completely backup the internet each and everyday perpetually. Not to mention that some monstrous infrastructure would need to be built, that why this effort should be a worldwide shared effort. A consortium would be formed and the idea could be further developed.
A worldwide HIstorical LIbrary/Museum for the future of mankind.

Share:
  • Jan 2 2012: There is an archive, and it's proven to be quite useful: http://www.archive.org/. I often use it to view the evolution of various websites. I used it the other day for example to show someone what one of my websites looked like before I sold it.

    It would be nice to see governments help fund such ventures. There's a problem with archiving the internet though, which is that deleted content (for whatever reason it was deleted) would never actually be deleted if it was still accessible in an archive. People remove content for good reasons a lot of the time.

    I think however the best thing to do is to just let the internet go-in its merry way. Having digital content deleted is much like paper records being discarded or lost in a fire. If the content is significant enough, it will be duplicated and re-published for however long it's relevant. No will care 100 years from now what user "iluvchips" said in response to a particular blog post titled "I Went to the Mall Today", but the more significant things like scientific discoveries, major news events, and cats eating watermelon, will naturally be duplicated and re-published until it also becomes irrelevant.
  • Jan 1 2012: Two things:
    1) www.archive.org already does most of what you're talking about (try the wayback machine search box). You see, you don't have to back up the whole internet, only the things that change when they change.
    2) Remember, X watts that go into backing up the internet is Y kilograms of CO2 into the air.
  • Dec 31 2011: This would take immense costs/planning. I think there is also a question of privacy seeing how much of the content is private or personal. I believe it has great merit/value but feasibility/private rights makes it an improbable pursuit right now.
    Good news is that it is likely (according to moores law) that in a decade or two this could be very much feasible, and I think a permission-system could be built.
    • thumb
      Dec 31 2011: I agree that it would take immense costs and planning. That's precisely the reason that it needs to be a international effort. However the benefits would be immense as well, new technologies would be emerge from this undertaking.

      As far as privacy goes, anything on the internet publicly available should be saved in the historical snapshot.

      We could have a separate/protected archive for private data. Where some rules and regulation could be imposed on access.

      What would happen with our knowledge today if a major catastrophe would happen? All the knowledge that we achieve in the last 100 years could be compromised to the point of no recovery.

      That risk should never exist because we should have a backup/emergency knowledge repository where we can always reference back in case of a disaster.

      Even ancient civilizations worried about keeping a historical record for us yet today we don't even worry about it.

      We built an international space station, we can build a worldwide internet backup system. But I agree as technology stands today the storage and network capabilities would be immense. But given a common goal and a clear design I believe that we can achieve great advances in technology where we could achieve the whole internet quickly and efficiently. I would imagine that new network, storage, bus subsystems and computer processing discoveries result from such effort.