To live is to remember; and how we choose to consecrate our memories is what gives texture and context to our lives as the Panopticon becomes public.  Google is good at creating the instant now for future recall, but The Wayback Machine is the granddaddy of soliciting who used to be.  Today we have — Memento — a new contender for scrapbooking our online lives.  So who is the king of our remembering?  Wayback or Memento? 

We’ll begin the memory runoff with Memento and we’ll use the domain since it has been around since April 1996.

Memento did not like that domain much.  The best example we could find that actually gave us a visible return and not a server error was during the year 2000.

Here is what Memento brought us for in 2000.  No images loaded, but we do remember that look and feel.

Next is the Wayback Machine.  We typed in and waited.

Here is what the Wayback Machine returned:  A full buffet of snapshots of that site over time — and the first image capture is November 27, 1996 — a mere six months after the site went live!

We clicked on the earliest link and this Wayback memory shot to the forefront of our wanton now:

What a difference 13 years makes!

“Internet Insider” became “GO INSIDE Magazine” in November 1996 and “Boles: The Mag!” eventually became “Urban Semiotic” in 2004 and the Resume was, and still is, the C.V.  We were also one of the first to use a traditional “post office” image as an email link.

Is it fair to so quickly compare Memento to Wayback? 

Can you ever recover and record memories that were never yours — but that are now available for the sharing in the public square?

Will Memento ever pluck the memory of the Wayback Machine to memorialize what the Wayback knows in case it ever forgets?


  1. Memento is interesting in that it shows you the steps that it takes to get to the time traveled web site, whereas the wayback machine just shows you the site. That being said, having actual end result is much better than knowing the path to a bunch of broken image links! 🙂

  2. I’m not sure why the steps are important, Gordon. Who cares? The only thing that really matters in the end is being able to hit the site you’re searching for.

  3. Super interesting story. Wonder how much it takes to record all of the internet? Run out of disk space much?

  4. I also wonder who is checking all that information, Anne. Is anybody really watching as the whole of the internet is recorded? Or are we operating purely on blind faith because there’s no way to witness all of it?

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