Virtually Way Back

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a short article on a new effort to preserve early virtual worlds:

Government Grant to Preserve Virtual Worlds

The two year grant is only for $590,000, which also lends to the idea that this will be an effort to preserve a view from within the virtual world, and not the actual virtual world in any “live” state. It will be interesting to watch how this rolls out. At least there is a centralized effort now underway that goes beyond the static images and video clips posted to project blogs across the Internet.

I can’t imagine how they will do this, since virtual worlds are dynamic and not static like web pages. The Library of Congress has already been preserving web pages for quite a long time now. The effort is known as the Wayback Machine.

Wayback Machine

You can pop in any URL and get a list of archive snapshots that are for the most part complete (sometimes the graphics are broken).  It’s a blast to go and visit sites that have long since passed off the live Internet.


One response to “Virtually Way Back

  1. It is sad to think of all the classic computer software that one will never see run again, owing to such causes as that there are no devices that can read the disks the software is stored on or that the disk media itself has physically deteriorated.

    In the case of Second Life, there are images of early Second Life users that were stored by Linden Lab and displayed in the forums at, and this historical record of images of early members and early builds and early scenes has been destroyed by Linden Lab. The images may still be stored somewhere, but the forums posts that have the links to the images no longer contain the images. The Second Life virtual world’s maker has chosen to destroy it’s part of the Second Life virtual world’s history because it didn’t want to pay for the computer resources require to store the image attachments. It’s a shame. To choose to cut off new attachments was perhaps a reasonable choice, but to not preserve the record of existing posts along with their attached images was a crying shame.

    Preserving the actual dynamic virtual world itself is considerably more of a challenge than preserving static images such as mentioned above. Will there still be any way to run Active World code or Second Life code or There code a hundred years from now?

    This topic seems like one that is not only of interest to ordinary virtual world enthusiasts like myself but which historians should be giving thought to as well.

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