“Wayforward Machine” provides a glimpse into the way forward for the net

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What could the future of the internet look like? Given that the digital world of the 21st is behind the name clickbaity, the Wayforward Machine is an attempt by the internet archive to preview the chaos that threatens the World Wide Web.

Internet Archive has an inkling of what the Internet will look like in 2046

The Internet Nonprofit Archive’s Wayback Machine continues to be very popular with Internet users, journalists, and archivists who are interested in seeing what a webpage looked like in the past, even if the page or entire websites are later removed. Users can simply navigate to web.archive.org to save a web page or navigate to a copy of a web page as it appeared earlier. As such, the 617 billion page Wayback Machine has become a must-have digital asset since its inception in 1996.

While the Wayback Machine allows you to travel back in time, the Internet Archive has developed a “Wayforward Machine” this week that does the opposite. Wayback Machine visitors are now greeted with the following banner claiming to take you 25 years into the future.

“On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Internet archive, we are looking forward to the year 2046. Will we be able to access trustworthy information online? Will knowledge be free and open?” indicates the non-profit organization.

Wayback machine.Enlarge / Wayback machine.

At wayforward.archive.org, users can enter a website and click “Next”.

Machine pioneer.Enlarge / Machine pioneer.

First look: “Wayforward Machine” in action

In our tests, Ars expected to type in the URL of a webpage and see a modified version – what it might look like 25 years later. However, to our disappointment, our tests found that typing on virtually any webpage shows the same series of popup messages masking and blurring the webpage’s existing content as it appears today:


Wayforward Machine results for arstechnica.com.Enlarge / Wayforward Machine results for arstechnica.com.

Ars saw a series of messages appearing on the wayforward machine after entering a url:

“The content of the website you want to access is protected by the Content Truth Gateway. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of free content ”followed by a dummy credit card payment form. Another message read, among other things: “The rights holder has not made this content available on your political block. The copyright to this material has been extended for another 200 years.”

And then it becomes clear: the whole purpose of the satirical Wayforward Machine is to raise awareness of the lingering threats to the Internet and libraries like the Wayback Machine, which plays a pre-eminent role in preserving historical content and the truth as it is in the past.

Last year, four of the country’s leading book publishers sued the Internet Archive over the Wayback Machine, which saved scanned copies of copyrighted books and made them available to the public on a site called the Open Library.

“The Internet Archive is facing a lawsuit by a cartel of corporate publishers that threatens the age-old right of libraries to buy, store, and publicly borrow materials. To fight for a world where libraries and learners are empowered through access to information, join our #EmpoweringLibraries campaign, “reads the IA2046 landing page.

Data protection officers and digital rights groups have joined the initiative, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mozilla, Fight for the Future and the Wikimedia Foundation.

For those who would rather see Wayforward Machine in action, here is a video:

Wayforward Machine teaser.

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