Irish Roots

September 20th, 2010

John Grenham

One of the most wonderful and most frightening aspects of the Web is its infinite mutability. God knows how future historians will capture it, or if they will even attempt to. The first stop in any effort will have to be the Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation based in San Francisco and on-line at www.archive.org. Since it was set up in 1996, the service been trying to catch regular snapshots of the entire Web and make them publicly available through their so-called "Wayback Machine". It currently archives 150 billion web-pages comprising more than 20 petabytes of data and its web-crawlers harvest over 20 more terabytes each month. To help ensure its preservation, the collection is mirrored at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, www.bibalex.org.

Even these gargantuan figures permit no more than sampling and exclude whole swathes of the Net where sites have decided to exclude themselves, or depend on databases or other server-side functionality. Add in the other activities of the Archive in collecting out-of-copyright moving images, audio, software and text - the organisation's mission statement is "universal access to all knowledge" - and the whole enterprise can seem a bit quixotic.

From the worm's-eye viewpoint of genealogy, the site's main day-to-day usefulness is in collecting family websites that include detailed pedigree information. Such sites are often set up to make available decades of painstaking research, but can be extremely ephemeral, surviving no more than a few years. The Internet Archive provides them with an afterlife, and helps ensure the research is not lost. Links to archived sites relating to Irish families are part of the free surname service at Irish Ancestors.

The flexibility of the Web also means that on-line mistakes are always correctable. But the Archive ensures that the act of correcting a mistake remains permanently visible.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishrootsatirishtimes.com.


Current column

2014

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
6
3
3
7
5
2
7
4
13
10
10
14
12
9
14
11
20
17
17
21
19
16
21
18
27
24
24
28
26
23
28
25
 
 
31
 
 
30


2013

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
7
4
4
1
6
3
1
5
2
7
4
2
14
11
11
8
13
10
8
12
9
14
11
9
21
18
18
15
20
17
15
19
16
21
18
16
28
25
25
22
27
 
22
26
23
28
25
23
 
 
 
29
 
 
29
 
30

 
30


2012

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
2
6
5
2
7
4
2
6
3
1
5
3
9
13
12
9
14
11
9
13
10
8
12
10
16
20
19
16
21
18
16
20
17
15
19
17
23
27
26
23
28
25
23
27
24
22
26
24
30
 
 
30
 
 
30
 
 
29
 
31


2011

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
3
7
7
4
2
6
4
1
5
3
7
5
10
14
14
11
9
13
11
8
12
10
14
12
17
21
21
18
16
20
18
15
19
17
21
19
24
28
28
25
23
27
25
22
26
24
28
26
31
 
 
 
30
 
 
29
 
31
 
 


2010

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
4
1
1
5
3
7
5
2
6
4
1
6
11
8
8
12
10
14
12
9
13
11
8
13
18
15
15
19
17
21
19
16
20
18
15
20
25
22
22
26
25
28
26
23
27
25
22
27
 
 
 
 
31
 
 
30
 
 
29
 


2009

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
6
2
2
6
4
1
6
3
7
5
2
7
13
9
9
13
11
8
13
10
14
12
9
14
20
16
16
20
18
15
20
17
21
19
16
21
27
23
23
27
25
22
27
24
28
26
23
28
 
 
 
 
 
29
 
31
 
 
30