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New Firefox Add-On for Searching the Wayback Machine

The Internet Archive announced yesterday a new Firefox add-on for using The Wayback Machine. It’s not an extension per se, it just adds a little icon to your upper right search bar in Firefox.

(You can see more add-ons related to the Internet Archive at Jeff Kaplan’s page. Add-ons incldue searches for the Internet Archive in general and searches for NASA images and The Open Library.)

Enter the URL of a site in which you’re interested and you’ll get a Wayback result showing all dates available. In the case of http://www.yahoo.com, which I tried to check first, I got archived pages going all the way back to 1996.

One caveat, though — this is for site URLs only. You can’t do keyword searches this way. (Didn’t you used to be able to search the Wayback Machine by keyword? I think it was a pretty long time ago.)

I wish this was more of a full-blown extension — where you could pull up current and former versions of a page, highlight differences, etc — but it’s nice just to have that in my search bar. If you haven’t used The Wayback Machine in a while, go take a look at the advanced search page. You can now filter by file type, compare two versions of a page, and even get a PDF output of an old page version (this feature is in beta.)

More Books for the Visually Impaired

Three cheers for the Internet Archive, which announced yesterday a new resource for the visually impaired (or as the IA called them, the “print disabled,” which I guess includes dyslexic people). These books are available at the newly redesigned Open Library, available at http://openlibrary.org/. What’s the Open Library? Here’s the first sentence from the About page: “One web page for every book ever published. It’s a lofty, but achievable, goal. ” Hey, I’m down with that! But let’s talk about the new collection for print disabled folks.

The library for the print disabled is available at http://openlibrary.org/subjects/accessible_book. Where is that count of a million coming from? On this home page I’m seeing a count of 393,792. Anyway, you’ll find a keyword search, subject listings, places and people, times, and a list of prominent authors and prominent publishers. The books accessible to the print disabled are scanned from hard copy books then digitized into a format called DAISY, a standard for digital talking books. (You can learn more about DAISY at http://www.daisy.org/.) Books that are out of copyright are accessible via unencrypted DAISY format, while in-copyright books are available in encrypted DAISY and require an NLS (National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) key to access. You can get a list of “Protected DAISY” titles at http://openlibrary.org/subjects/protected_daisy. There are 410 at this writing.

Let’s find an unprotected DAISY book. At the Accessible Book collection page, I did a search for Ruggles of Red Gap and found it at http://openlibrary.org/works/OL5714160W/Ruggles_of_Red_Gap. (If you’re looking for something funny and odd, I recommend it, though I admit I spent about half the book wanting to smack Ruggles.) The site lists 15 editions, three of which are available in any kind of format.

As you can see, you have the option to read the book online (if you’ve ever used Internet Archive’s book browsing function, you’ll have no trouble; this is the same thing). You also have the option to get the book in PDF, plain text, ePub, Kindle, or DAISY format. For information on how DAISY works and hardware and software options for it, see http://www.daisy.org/tools-services. There’s a cross-platform DAISY reader (Mac, Windows, Linux) over on Google Code. It’s called Emerson.

Though this Open Library relaunch was put in the context of more books being available for print disabled folks (and I agree that’s very important) I found it also the case that there’s plenty of material here for the non-print disabled. I find the layout of book search easier and friendlier than the regular Internet Archive, though there’s also plenty on the IA that you won’t find here (like the huge collection of ancient yearbooks, for example.)

Absolutely worth a look!

Internet Archive Hits Two Million Books

A big congratulations to The Internet Archive, which announced yesterday that it has hit two million free digital texts. The 2 millionth text, if you’re wondering, is Homiliary on Gospels from Easter to first Sunday of Advent, which is a thousand-year-old book, handwritten in Latin.

I don’t mind that it’s a thousand years old but I don’t think I’ll get past the Latin. If you’re looking for other books to explore, check out the Internet Archive Ebooks and Texts section at http://www.archive.org/details/texts. (Actually that section says it has 2.2+ million texts. I wonder where the others came from? Anyway.) The books here are divided into several sections, including books from American libraries (the largest section with 1.2 million texts), books from Canadian libraries, Open Source books, Project Gutenberg, and Children’s Library. If you want to browse check the nav on the right for the most popular downloads of all time, the most popular downloads of this week, and Editor’s Picks.

You can do keyword searches, too. If you want to do anything beyond a simple keyword search I recommend you go straight to
the advanced search page; there are so many fields available to search that it’s hard to remember them all. The advanced search is easier.

If you can’t think of anything to search for let me recommend a few fun ones. Try Joe Worker and the Story of Labor (it’s a comic!) or Punch (one of several volumes the IA has available) or, if you’re looking for a little Timothy Leary and Stewart Brand, how about a copy of Psychedelic
Review from 1967
?

You’ve probably gotten the idea; The Internet Archive’s texts selection is huge and eclectic, and with over two million items now available you’ll have no trouble finding something of interest.

Internet Archive Has a Free Music Widget

I have mentioned before the Internet Archive and its wonderful collection of free live music. Now you can bring some of that music to your own site with a new Live Music Widget, as announced by the Internet Archive last week.

The widget is available on Widgetbox at http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/internet-archive-free-music. You can do some customizing of width, height, theme, etc. However the content remains the same; new music as it’s added to the archive.

When I took a look at the widget it included music from bands including The Grateful Dead, Donna the Buffalo, Cracker, and Drive-By Truckers. Now if it had a built in player that would be even more awesome, but alas….

The widget was created by Jeff Kaplan (or at least some user calling themselves “JeffKaplan”) of the Internet Archive. This is the only widget available from this user. Will be perhaps be seeing more on the way?

By the way, if you like this widget, don’t forget to check out Dewey Music, which I covered last month in ResearchBuzz. Great stuff.

Dewey Organizes Internet Archive Music

I first read about Dewey last week at Boing Boing. Boinger Dean Putney has create a project that makes it much easier to find and listen to the huge archive of freely-available music on Dewey — over 1.1 million tracks by over 10,000 artists!

Dewey is available at http://deweymusic.org/. From the front page you can get the pick of the day, or you can look at the top-rated, most-played, or newest tracks. But if you’d rather, you can browse genres or do a keyword search. I found the genres list way too unwieldy — one of the genres, I promise you, was “a campfire and a tent and a flashlight and some matches and a tree and that river and my glasses and a spaceship and a really really big bear but the bear is really really far away” — but the keyword search works really well.

I did a search for ragtime and got a results page divided into several sections. There’s a list of artists (in this case none) albums, and songs. At the bottom is a list of venues, but this isn’t for venue information, it’s for performances that were recorded in that particular venue. The result list also includes the number of “thumbs up” for songs.

And here’s the really cool thing — you can use the icons next to each song or album to either play it immediately or add it to a playlist. (Looking at albums full of songs gives you an addition icon option to download each track.) The playlist shows up on the upper-left part of the page. If you’re trying to make a playlist of a certain length, you’ll have to do some guessing — track length is not always available even for album listings. But if you just want some music, pop in some music and albums and away you go.

Both search and playback were fast and terrifically easy to use. I didn’t see a RSS feed for search results, which would be fantastic, and track length would be a great thing to have for all the songs. But I’m quibbling — Dewey makes the million+ tracks in the Internet Archive SO MUCH EASIER to find and use! I wonder if anyone would do something like this for the feature films section of the IA, or maybe the Prelinger Archives?

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