Posted on April 28th, 2010 at 11:05 PM by Wan
Listen with webreader

Internet Archive is an Internet non-profit library that offers permanent access for researchers, historians and scholars, people with disabilities and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.  Services offered includes texts, audio, moving images, software as well as archived web pages.  Its largest collection is its web archive which is mirrored at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt. It allows user to both upload and download digital material and provides unrestricted online access for FREE.

Marxists Internet Archive (MIA) is another similar comparison to Internet Archive. It is also a non-profit organisation that provides multi-lingual, more than 40 languages.  Unfortunately, it faced a problem of Denial-of-service attacks from China in January 2007.  The seriousness of attacks coupled with other hosting issues, led to its closure for several weeks, thus making users lose faith using their services.

Internet Archive harnessed the long tail and leverage customer self-service by referring to the vast number of small sites that made up of:

  • Wayback Machine, a digital time capsule service that allows users to see archived version of web pages across time.
  • Prelinger Archive, a collection of films.
  • Open Library, a comprehensive online database of books that is still in beta.
  • Live Music Archive, a collection of audio.

They make everything available by embracing the niches. The Open Library has more than 25 millions of books online that oversees one of the world’s largest book digitisation projects whereas, Live Music Archive has over 50,000 audio from independent artists.  Users could buy from Amazon, Abebooks, Alibris, Barnes and Noble, Powells or borrow from the Worldcat library, BookMooch, Title Trader or search through Google Book. This “live web” uses RSS aggregator technology that allows user to link not just to a page but also subscribe to it with notification every time the page changes.

It harness collective intelligence through positive feedback loop and more algorithm-fueled recommendations, where it guides users by following their likes and dislikes, therefore easing their exploration of the unknown to find their requirements using “More like this” statement towards the chosen subjects items.  It leverages the “wisdom of crowd” on the open-source media collections that are contributed implicitly by the public. Recently, the Archive has begun working to provide specialized services relating to the information access needs of the print-disabled. TechRepublic podcast stated that one of best practices in web 2.0 application is ability to provide usability for the disable communities. Hence, it provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and person with disabilities.

The future looks promising for the Internet Archive as it offers more books, free music concerts, TV programs and a “snapshot” of World Wide Web each day capturing many implicit contributions from a large number of users.

An Internet Archive Photo Gallery (Require Flash)

The Internet Archive, In Depth


Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail. Retrieved April 28, 2010 from Electronic Book Library database.

Internet Archive. (2001). Retrieved April 28, 2010.

Marxists Internet Archive. (n.d). Retrieved April 28, 2010.

O’Reilly Media. (2010).What is Web 2.0: Web 2.0 Design Patterns. Retrieved April 27, 2010.