About the Web History Center
Why it matters
In just a decade the vast growth of the Web has utterly transformed the ways that most of us use and store information, perhaps as completely as the printing press did starting half a millennium ago. The process continues, with no end in sight.
Yet many of the records of this historic transformation - and the little known 75-year history of brilliant innovation that led to it - are disappearing. Every day thousands of pages and untold bytes of irreplaceable source material are lost. Software programs that blazed trails in the science of handling information deteriorate on old disks and tapes without backups. New Web professionals are often unaware of prior achievements in their own field, and the resulting ignorance can slow innovation.
Since 1995 interest in various aspects of Web history has gathered momentum, and this has led to some important successes in saving portions of our digital heritage. These include the preservation work of the former Web History Project and especially that of some of the world-class institutions now becoming Web History Center members.
But until now, no single entity has been tracking or tying together those independent efforts. There has been no clearinghouse for information for either archivists or the public, no coordinated preservation initiative, and no easy access to the materials already preserved.
By addressing these unmet needs, the Web History Center will save significant amounts of at-risk materials. Because the main role of the WHC will be to facilitate the preservation of materials by existing institutions rather than duplicate their efforts, from the outset it will have a permanent, tangible impact on how much of the history of our digital heritage is available to future generations.