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The Yahoo! Time Capsule

Yahoo! is creating a time capsule. The first paragraph of the Yahoo! Time Capsule Overview concludes by claiming “This is the first time that digital data will be gathered and preserved for historical purposes”. Excuse me? What has the Internet Archive been doing since 1996? What are the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank and The September 11 Digital Archive doing? And that is just off the top of my head – the list could go on and on.

I think that what they are doing (collecting digital content from around the world for 30 days, then giving the timecapsule to the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in Washington, DC) is great. I am not sure what the bit about being “beamed along a path of laser light into space” is all about – but it sounds sort of cool. To add an entry, it must be put under one of 10 themes: Love, Anger, Fun, Sorrow, Faith, Beauty, Past, Now, Hope or You. It seems like an interesting attempt at organizing what would could otherwise be just an endless stream of images. At the time of this post, they had 15,564 contributions over the course of the first 3 days. I even explored some of what they have – it is pretty. It reminded me a bit of the America 24/7 project from a few years back – though with more types of media and an aim to record a snapshot of the world, not just America.

They have another ridiculous claim on the main time capsule page: “This first-ever collection of electronic anthropology captures the voices, images and stories of the online global community.”

Go ahead and make a fabulous digital archive of contributions from around the world Yahoo!, but please stop claiming that you invented the idea. I can’t be the only person who is frustrated by the way they are presenting this. Please tell me I am not alone!

Posted in born digital records, future-proofing, internet archiving, preservation


  1. Rob Jenson

    So it would seem that your complaints have forced Google to get more real. I can’t find either claim, or any other substantive misuse of the word “first” on the site.

    It will be very interesting to ask Jeff Place (archivist at Folkways) whether this is something he is handling, and what the details are for preservation of a blob of digital data for 20 years? Are they going to be migrating formats? Do they have redundant off-site backups in case D.C. gets nuked next week? Is he even involved, or is this being done by the computer guys instead of the archivists. I must know!

  2. Jeanne


    I think you are right, Yahoo! definitely changed the objectionable text. It makes me wish I had a screen shot of the old version.

    If you find out the answers to your questions – please pass them along.

  3. Pingback:The Ten Thousand Year Blog » The Yahoo Time Capsule

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