Internet Archive makes its content available offline

The Internet Archive is a massive and incredibly useful resource that offers access to millions of books, games, software, audio and video files, and cached versions of websites via the recently updated Wayback Machine.

To use it, you need an internet connection, but that’s changing thanks to the creation of the new Offline Archive project.

SEE ALSO: Internet Archive lets you play 2,500 more classic DOS games in your browser, including The Secret of Monkey Island and Microsoft Flight Simulator

Half of the world’s population don’t have access to regular, or stable internet, and this new open source project is aimed at making the Internet Archive’s collection available to them.

Announcing the initiative, Jenica Jessen says:

For many of our readers, the internet seems omnipresent -- like electricity and running water, it’s available everywhere from our homes and offices to trains and planes. But for more than half of the world’s population, that access is far from guaranteed. In many developing countries and rural areas, the infrastructure that enables internet access is unreliable, slow, or nonexistent, while natural disasters and conflicts may exacerbate the problem. Additionally, internet access can be too expensive for many people, and some governments limit internet access or censor the content for political reasons. All of these factors can combine to make internet access inconsistent, low-quality, or altogether unavailable for billions of people, which in turn leads to poor educational outcomes and intergenerational poverty. Compounding the challenge, the internet in wealthier countries is growing rapidly, and high-bandwidth videos and graphics are making it harder than ever for people on low-quality networks to participate in the modern web.

So how does the Offline Archive work? Jessen explains:

As part of a solution to this problem, we have built an offline server that transfers Internet Archive collections to a local server, caches content while browsing, and delivers the Internet Archive UI offline in the browser. The system moves content between servers by "sneakernet" -- on disks, USB sticks, and SD cards. This approach should improve access for anything from a Raspberry Pi to an institutional server holding terabytes of data. Right now, we’re working to make it available in a variety of different languages, so that anybody can utilize it -- not just English speakers.

The server is integrated into the Internet-In-A-Box (IIAB) platform, and can be installed on top of the Rachel platform, or potentially any Linux-based platform.

You can find out more about the open source project, and how you can help with it, at archive.org/about/offline-archive

Image credit: Roman Chekhovskoy/Shutterstock

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