The Wayback Machine

wayback

The Wayback Machine (part of https://web.archive.org) has been making backups of the World Wide Web since 1996. Mark Graham, its director, describes it as "a time machine for the web." It does that by scanning hundreds of millions of webpages every day and storing them on their servers. To date, there are nearly 900 billion web pages backed up. Computer scientist Brewster Kahle says "The average life of a webpage is a hundred days before it's changed or deleted."

The first time I heard the name "Wayback Machine" I immediately thought of the fictional time-traveling device used by Mister Peabody (a dog) and Sherman (a boy) in the animated cartoon The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends. In one of the show's segments, "Peabody's Improbable History", the characters used the machine to witness, participate in, and often alter famous historical events.

Sherman and Peabody

Sherman and Peabody

It has been many years since I watched these cartoons, but I recall them as funny and educational. I might be wrong about the latter observation.

I visited the website today and searched this blog's URL https://www.serendipity35.net and found that our site has been saved 153 times between February 8, 2009, and May 3, 2024. However, this blog started in February 2006, but that was when it was a little project in blogging I started with Tim Kellers when we were working at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. At that time it was hosted on NJIT's servers, so our URL was http://dl1.njit.edu/serendipity, for which there is no record. Perhaps, the university did not allows the Wayback Machine to crawl our servers.

serendipity35 2009

According to Wikipedi's entry, The Wayback Machine's software has been developed to "crawl" the Web and download all publicly accessible information and data files on webpages, the Gopher hierarchy, the Netnews (Usenet) bulletin board system, and downloadable software. The information collected by these "crawlers" does not include all the information available on the Internet, since much of the data is restricted by the publisher or stored in databases that are not accessible. To overcome inconsistencies in partially cached websites, Archive-It.org was developed in 2005 by the Internet Archive as a means of allowing institutions and content creators to voluntarily harvest and preserve collections of digital content, and create digital archives.

Crawls are contributed from various sources, some imported from third parties and others generated internally by the Archive. For example, crawls are contributed by the Sloan Foundation and Alexa, crawls run by Internet Archive on behalf of NARA and the Internet Memory Foundation, that mirror Common Crawl

screenshot 2014

A screenshot from the blog from a decade ago (2014).

Searching on another website of mine - Poets Online - I find pages from 2003 when it was hosted on the free hosting platform Geocities. There are broken lonks and missing images but they give a taste of what the site was back then in the days before customizable CSS and templated websites. They have archived a page from March of this year and most of the links and some images come through.

The online Wayback Machine is not the one that sparked by time-traveling imagination as a child. Yes, I wanted to accompany Sherman and Mr. Peabody, but I will have to be content to the time travel of looking at things from my past on and offline.

Waybackmachine3.png
Screen shot from DVD of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons., Fair use, Link

Gig Work After Retirement

After retirement, some older workers are turning to gig work to keep busy and sharp, as a lifeline, or as a last resort. So reports Rest of World who spoke to 50 older workers worldwide.

Most gig workers globally are relatively young: Research published in 2021 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency focused on improving working conditions, puts the average age for delivery workers at 29 and the average age for ride-hailing drivers at 36. But older individuals are turning to gig work, and their numbers are expected to grow in the coming years.

For example, a man in São Paulo drives people at least 12 hours a day, and at 62, he doesn’t see himself stopping anytime soon. He makes roughly 4000 reais ($790) per month after paying off all expenses; it is now his household’s only income. In a country where the monthly minimum wage is 1,412 reais ($273), it’s a good income.

gig work
An unretired gig worker working in a car driven by an unretired gig worker.

I wrote about gig work and "unretirement" on this blog five years ago, and started writing about it 9 years ago on another blog when I decided to do it myself.

The global population of people 65 or older is expected to double by 2050, surpassing 1.6 billion, according to the U.N. At the same time, family units worldwide are transforming, often requiring older people to support themselves for longer. Not all gig workers do it full-time, and for many people (especially younger workers) it supplements other work.

In America, things are different but the trend is still evident. Over the last two decades, the share of the workforce aged 55 or older almost doubled and the government is looking at labor trends like this. By 2028, over a quarter of the workforce will be 55 or older. Inflation has been a factor in forcing retirees back to work. 43 percent of those considering returning to work are doing so because of inflation. One report identifies that older Americans are increasingly turning to the gig economy to supplement their incomes and savings due to its flexibility. Nearly 1 in 3 independent or “gig” workers are over age 55.

Too Much Artificial Intelligence

You may feel like there is too much about artificial intelligence all around you. It's in the news, conversations and, in education and industry, it is in the tools we use. It has also dominated this blog in the past year. Too much so, I'm beginning to think.

I know that AI is a big topic currently and it can't be ignored. But it is just one of many topics this blog has addressed since 2006. I will make a more conscious effort this summer to address some non-AI issues, acknowledging that it seems to permeate almost every other category.

AI attack

The AI-augmented Educational Support Professional

ai assistant

Working with AI on instructional design isn't at this point. Yet.

You can find numerous articles online about how artificial intelligence (AI) tools and activities can create the "AI-augmented professor." I have seen fewer opinions on how non-teaching staff members who support the learning process at most universities will be affected.

Certainly, AI augmentation will also affect those who support faculty and students, such as instructional designers, researchers, administrators, and other nonteaching professionals.

I read a piece on insidehighered.com about this group and keyed in on instructional designers since that was my area. The article uses an awkward term - BYOAI Bring Your Own AI - for his group because of the hybrid nature of home and office work for this group. Of  course, many faculty are also hybrid now, teaching in a campus classroom as well as from their home or office online.

Instructional designers are already using generative AI tools to create graphics, images and audio segments for classes. New tools, such as OpenAI’s Sora can generate full-motion videos from prompts. Chatbots can write or revise content. It can produce a rough draft syllabus for a new course.

This is also something that should concern those people coming into higher ed (and secondary education too, though perhaps to a lesser degree currently). Citing a survey by Microsoft and LinkedIn, ZDNet reported that “AI skills are so much of a priority that the report suggests 66 percent of business leaders wouldn’t hire someone without AI skills, and 71 percent of leaders would prefer to hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced candidate without them.”