Inside the Internet Archive

What it takes to digitize the world's knowledge -- from books to websites to cable TV

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You'll find wonderful things surfing the pages of the Internet Archive, an online library of millions of books, films, audio recordings, web pages, and more. You can watch what might be the oldest "cat video" of all time -- an 1894 reel from Thomas Edison's movie studio. You can check out what TheAtlantic.com's homepage looked like in 1996, via the Wayback Machine, which has recorded over 240 billion web pages since it launched that year. You can even listen to the crackling notes of 78 rpm recordings from the 1920s.

The Internet Archive is a massive, ambitious effort to digitize the full spectrum of human knowledge. Above, a documentary from Deepspeed Media goes inside the archive to reveal what that looks like in practice. "How do you try to give things away in a perpetual way? Access drives preservation," Brewster Kahle, the founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive explains from the archive's headquarters inside a former Christian Science church in San Francisco. "If you think, 'why don't we encrypt it and put it in a vault and we'll be able to look at it in 70 years?' ... that kind of a 'dark archive' is the worst possible idea! I think it's keeping things in use and active that keeps it part of the mind share." Sustainability is clearly a priority for the library, down to the way heat from the servers is recycled to warm the building.

This film was shot in October last year when the Internet Archive celebrated a landmark --10 petabytes of stored media. Tour the space, which still looks more like a church than a library and see where millions of books are digitized and stored in a facility in Richmond, CA. 

For more work by Deepspeed Media, visit http://www.deepspeedmedia.com/

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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