January 26, 2022

Brewster Kahle Profile: “He Founded the Internet Archive with a Utopian Vision. That Hasn’t Changed, But the Internet Has”

From the SF Chronicle:

Inside his library, Brewster Kahle is dancing. He smiles as he sways on the spot, an antique Victrola filling the foyer of the building, a former church, with the scratchy jazz tunes of yesteryear.

He lifts the needle and the music stops, but just for now. Soon his staff will convert the aging record to a string of ones and zeroes that will live forever in cyberspace. This is the Internet Archive, and that is why Kahle, and it, are here: To make available for free, online, every bit of digital or physical information that exists.

To walk with Kahle through his columned temple of knowledge in San Francisco’s Richmond District is to understand the scale of what he and his staff, which now numbers more than 100, have been hard at work for almost 25 years. In a loading area stacks of donated books await their turn on a specialized scanning machine where, shrouded behind a black curtain, a technician painstakingly copies endless pages.

Downstairs, microfiche reels are being converted into computer images that will join the staggering amount of data the archive has collected over the years.

Its servers holds more than 70 unique petabytes of data — 70 million gigabytes — including 65 million texts, movies, audio files, images, books and more.

Kahle’s quest to build what he calls “A Library of Alexandria for the internet” started in the 1990s when he began sending out programs called crawlers to take digital snapshots of every page on the web, hundreds of billions of which are available to anyone through the archive’s Wayback Machine.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article (approx. 1745 words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.