The Library of Congress and Alexa Internet announce the Election 2000 Collection, the first large-scale collection of date-searchable Web sites to be archived and made available online.
The Election 2000 Collection, developed for the Library of Congress by the Internet Archive, Alexa Internet and Compaq Computer, is an Internet library containing archived copies of more than 1,000 election-related Web sites. The collection, searchable by date, by Web site, and by category via Alexa's new "Wayback Machine" technology, contains more than 2 million megabytes of election-related information gathered between August 1, 2000, and January 14, 2001, including what was published on the candidates' Web sites, political party sites and major news sites.
The Election 2000 Collection is important because it contributes to the historical record of the U.S. presidential election, capturing information that could otherwise have been lost. With the growing role of the Web as an influential medium, records of historical events such as the U.S. presidential election could be considered incomplete without materials that were "born digital" and never printed on paper. Because Internet content changes at a very rapid pace, especially on those sites related to an election, many important election sites have already disappeared from the Web. For the Election 2000 Collection, rapidly changing sites were archived daily, or even twice and three times in a day, in an attempt to capture the dynamic nature of Internet content.
"This was the first presidential election in which the Web played an important role, and there would have been a gap in the historical record of this period without a collection such as this," said Winston Tabb, associate librarian for Library Services. "The Library of Congress worked with the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building digital libraries, to create this digital collection for researchers, historians and the general public."
Compaq Computer undertook the major task of collecting and archiving sites for the collection. "Compaq Research was able to 'deep crawl' hundreds of Web sites each day to build an unprecedented record of the changing nature of the Web. It was tricky, because finding all the images, videos and computer scripts associated with each page required developing specialized technology," said Brewster Kahle, president of Alexa Internet.
Alexa Internet created Wayback Machine technology, which allows users to browse this huge collection and other Internet libraries like it. "By enabling users to retrieve Web sites out of the past, Alexa's Wayback Machine technology adds a time dimension to the Internet and creates the first 'time browser' for the Web," said Mr. Kahle.
Alexa Internet, the Web Information Company, gathers, stores, indexes and makes available multi-terabyte digital libraries, collections of Web sites and other Internet information. The company's Archive of the Web has been growing since 1996, and now contains more than 40 terabytes of data. Alexa also offers a free Web navigation service (available at www.alexa.com), which gives Internet users access to the Archive as they surf, as well as detailed information about Web sites such as related links, contact information, site statistics and reviews. The company donates a copy of its Archive of the Web on a continuing basis to the nonprofit Internet Archive, which is endowed to preserve the digital heritage for scholarly access. Alexa, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com, is located on the Web at www.alexa.com.
The Internet Archive (www.archive.org) is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization that was founded to build an "Internet library," with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others.