Ever run into a situation where materials that you used to link to in a class (or that you have bookmarked) are suddenly no longer available? Ever wonder if there was a way to archive these materials so that they could be available to you (or your class) even if the Web site disappears? While there may be no way to keep these links active forever, there are a couple of resources I use to help me find and/or maintain links to pages even after the links go away. The first is the Internet Archive.
The Internet Archive—also known as the Wayback Machine—has been around since 1996 and archives Web pages as well as other content. Their Web site states that they have more than "150 billion archived pages." To use it, simply type the URL of the page you are looking for in the Wayback Machine search box. Then simply select from the archived dates displayed to find the content you are looking for—note that sometimes you have to click on a couple of dates to find the right page. Be aware that not every page is archived and that the pages are not "live," so the links may not work if the lower level pages have not also been archived. I usually use the Wayback Machine once a quarter to access content for a faculty member who has a dead link in his or her class.
The Internet Archive is a good tool for finding pages and Web content that have already gone away, but is there a way to archive content before it disappears? Certainly people cut and paste, print, or even create PDFs of pages to save for future use, but none of these keep the interactivity of the Web page. The second tool I would recommend is a relatively new service called iCyte, which allows users to not only bookmark sites but also to save and annotate those sites.
ICyte is "a unique software product enabling users to mark, copy, save, and share any Web-based content. It has been developed specifically for online research and can be used by any person who searches the Web and needs to save (or share) their information" (http://www.icyte.com./faq.html). ICyte is a browser plug-in for either Firefox or Internet Explorer that allows you (while browsing) to save any html content (including youtube videos) to your free account. Once your pages are saved, you can annotate and tag them, group them into projects, and share them with others. The saved content is on the iCyte server (not your desktop).
So the next time you lose a link, try the Wayback Machine, and to prevent future loss, try iCyte.