I recently found out about the blog at geocities.institute where they dig through the Geocities archive torrent extracted by the internet archive and write about interesting things they find. That of course eventually led me to traipse through the internet archive’s wayback machine again, especially looking back at some of my older websites.
I like having the ability to dig through time and find old content I’ve written or created. (Which is only one of the reasons why I advocate backing up your social media content regularly). That’s why I like this blog, it means I can easily look through the past and figure out what I was doing, say, in 2011. In fact, I still have a lot of old files to dig through and organize and such. One of my goals is that any old material I find that can safely be made public would be made available through this blog/site. This content is probably of interest only to myself, but that alone is good enough reason to keep them around.
There are, however, a bunch of things that regretably I can no longer access due to circumstances, such as:
- files I had from my college days at EEE. I remember having backed up stuff to a CD before, but I cannot find that CD now
- My Geocities content from before 2002. I had written somewhere that I was on Geocities since 2000, but the only archive I have is from 2002 (and the wayback machine only goes back that far), and the 2002 archive is only a placeholder that links to other free hosting I had back then. I’m sure there was an older version of the site that was mostly a Final Fantasy and Rurouni Kenshin fansite that I probably got rid of because I wasn’t too happy with it. It’s possible that the older version was on one of the “neighborhood”-style Geocities URLs, as my wayback machine search is only for the “username”-style URL. I can’t recall if I did have a neighborhood-style URL, but if I did, I don’t remember it anymore.
- Yahoo Messenger chat archives. Yahoo Messenger was officially discontinued on July 2018. They provided an export tool that supposedly would have worked until November 2018, but I had no luck with it. I read somewhere that they actually lost the old database from before 2011 or such, so there was no way of recovering it at all. I was a bit active on YM back in the day, so that’s a big loss.
- old emails from Edsamail and Softhome (basically before Yahoo Mail and Gmail). It is unlikely these still exist in the cloud somewhere, as the norm back then was to delete the emails from the server to save space. It’s possibly I have an old hard drive here somewhere that has MBOX files to be parsed though.
Now that I have access to a scanner, I also wish I had kept old analog stuff like old school notebooks and such. Not because I was really good at notes, but I filled those things with off topic stuff like sketches, plans for building my own games, etc.
Thinking about this reminds me of a recent The Orville episode where the starship’s 25th century computer is able to analyze a smartphone from 2015 and create a simulation of the life of the woman who owned the phone, based on her message history and all that. I doubt if such technology is truly feasible - the data stored in emails and messages and social media is only one aspect of modern life after all - but it’s nice to imagine that as long as we archive things successfully, some version of us can still exist in the far future.