Archive for October, 2008

Searching the dawn of the 21st Century

October 7, 2008

What was the web of the past really like?

Last Tuesday, Google unveiled a unique new web search, 2001 Google, as part of their 10th birthday celebration.

Using an actual archived version of their search engine index from January 2001, the service answers queries more-or-less how Google did back then — same results, same ranking, same summary ‘snippets’.

But of course, many of those result pages have changed or disappeared entirely since then — and that’s where the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine comes in. For many of the 2001 search results, the best or only view comes from the Wayback Machine, which Google has helpfully provided in lieu of the usual ‘cached version’ links.

The combination of authentic Google search and the Wayback’s giant web archive is more powerful than either alone: finding needles lost in the Wayback haystack, showing actual prior rankings/popularity of pages for real queries, and highlighting material that would have been lost forever without purposeful public-interest archiving.

We thank Google for this chance to work together and highlight our web archive. Google plans to leave the 2001 search up for one month, and we’ll talk more about what we’ve learned from this service in a future blog post.

In the meantime, try the 2001 Google Search!