"The idea that actually that personally I made a pile of money during the 90s is a fluke of the capital markets . . . it made a whole lot of things easier . . . but the whole idea since the early 80s was to build the computers and the systems in order to do the digital library."
-- Brewster Kahle, in a 2006 interview with The Media Giraffe Project.
From the Internet Archive website:
VIEW 19-minute interview clip
The Media Giraffe Project interviews Brewster Kahle, digital librarian, director and co-founder of the Internet Archive. Brewster touches on his motivation for starting the archive, the importance of digital libraries and his motivation: "one upping the Greeks."
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit 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. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections.
Why the Archive is Building an 'Internet Library'
Libraries exist to preserve society's cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it's essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world...
But without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. And paradoxically, with the explosion of the Internet, we live in what Danny Hillis has referred to as our "digital dark age."
The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet, a new medium with major historical significance, and other "born-digital" materials from disappearing into the past. Collaborating with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, we are working to preserve a record for generations to come.
Open and free access to literature and other writings has long been considered essential to education and to the maintenance of an open society. Public and philanthropic enterprises have supported it through the ages.
The Internet Archive is opening its collections to researchers, historians, and scholars. The Archive has no vested interest in the discoveries of the users of its collections, nor is it a grant-making organization.
At present, the size of our Web collection is such that using it requires programming skills. However, we are hopeful about the development of tools and methods that will give the general public easy and meaningful access to our collective history. In addition to developing our own collections, we are working to promote the formation of other Internet libraries in the United States and elsewhere. --- END EXCERPT FROM WEBSITE -- Both Google, as a commercial enterprise, and the Internet Archive, as a non-profit, are seeking to develop efficient ways to digitize massive archival collections of books in the world's major libraries, museums and government archives. The University of Maryland is joined with the Internet Archive to build a children's digital library.
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