March 3rd, 2009
Wayback Machine 2.0: AboutUs and Iterasi partner to give you a view of present and past
[Full disclosure: Iterasi is a client and I've been working with AboutUs on a top-secret widget project.]
If you’ve ever been looking for dated information on the Web, you’ve likely come across the Wayback Machine on the Internet Archive. No site provides such a detailed reference to the yester-Web, allowing us to reach back to forgotten history and grab snippets of the Web as it once was.
But for all the compliments I can pile on the Wayback Machine, it is not without its flaws.
The biggest gripe? The Wayback Machine only archives HTML. That means that any image files or CSS that is needed to render a page doesn’t get archived. Which means if that information gets deleted from the original server, then the Wayback Machine archives don’t render properly.
Needless to say, a bunch of pages render poorly.
My other complaint? The Wayback Machine wasn’t created in the Silicon Forest. But that’s just how I am.
Okay. That’s Wayback Machine 1.0. Hold that thought.
Now, when it comes to accessing current information about any Web site, few resources can compete with the simplicity and ease-of-use of Portland-based AboutUs. Even if AboutUs doesn’t have a current page about a site, they’ll render one in a matter of seconds. So, typing “http://aboutus.org/[whatever URL you want]” is about the easiest way to get information on any site—as it currently exists.
There’s just one problem: seeing how a site looked in the past isn’t always that simple. You can review the Wiki change tracking, but that’s not always the best way of assessing the changes to the site. And if you just added the site to AboutUs, you have no idea what the site looked like previously.
Now for that historical reference, Portland-based Iterasi is about the easiest way to see how a site looked in the past.
But Iterasi has its own flaw: the archive isn’t terribly broad. It’s deep for certain “Web 2.0 cool kid” sites, but it could use more breadth.
If only AboutUs could find a site that helped provide the historical reference they’re missing. If only Iterasi could find a site that could help extend the breadth of their Web archive.
Well welcome to a “You got your archive in my current information! You got your current information pointing to my archive!” moment as two great Portland tastes have found a way to taste great together.
That’s right. AboutUs and Iterasi are partnering. And the result could be what we’ve all been wanting the Wayback Machine to provide: current details and accurate historical renderings.
Welcome to the Wayback Machine 2.0.
Now, you can visit AboutUs to get the latest information about any given site. Looking for historical information? Iterasi is there to provide the archived pages that they have on file. Voila!
Iterasi describes the peanut butter of the AboutUs-Iterasi partnership this way:
So why is this cool? Well for a whole bunch of reasons. It gives the AboutUs user a very cool new feature (obviously…right!). AboutUs users can now search through the iterasi archive to research the evolution of the Website, search for information of historical significance, whatever. For iterasi, it should be a source of traffic to our site where we can hopefully turn them into happy users as well.
AboutUs describes the chocolate of the partnership this way:
Now, we’ve partnered with the smart folks at Iterasi to give their archive greater visibility and provide the people visiting AboutUs with an additional resource for information about websites and the organizations and people attached to them. Now at every AboutUs page, you’ll find a link to the Iterasi Archive of pages relating to that site.
Recently I ran into Erik. I suspected he had something to do with putting iterasi and AboutUs together. The talk went something like this:
Pete: ‘Erik, are you behind this?’.
Erik: ‘Yes. It makes sense to me’.
Pete: ‘You know, if people find out you do nice things, it could be the beginning of the end for you as a VC’.
Erik: ‘Yes, it could appear that I am losing my edge’.
We both had a good laugh and went our separate ways.
Whatever the case, it’s a great move for a couple of outstanding Portland startups. And it’s really cool to see this kind of collaboration in our community.
Long story short, we all win. And now we have a much stronger information resource—right here in our Silicon Forest backyard.