First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology Find

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Digital archaeology that has revealed the earliest signs of web-life in America. Stanford Libraries has brought to light the first websites ever uploaded in the US–genealogically part Euro-descendant, part US original. The pages are now available for browsing, and Stanford Wayback, a customized platform for accessing archived web assets, provides a third dimension for viewing the internet, allowing users to see and navigate the web as it has changed over time and to look back in time at code written by the earliest “WWW Wizards.”

“A handful of staff at SLAC who worked on the early web fortuitously saved the files, along with their timestamps,” said Nicholas Taylor, web archiving service manager for Stanford Libraries.

The earliest site dates back to Dec. 6, 1991–a month in which no-fly zones were being set up in Iraq after the Gulf War, the Ukrainian people voted for independence from the Soviet Union and the Cold War ended, Hezbollite (Shiite Muslim) militants released their last US hostages, and Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston won at the 2nd annual Billboard Music Awards.

The sites were installed on the first server outside of Europe, which was installed by physicist Paul Kunz between Dec. 6 and Dec. 12.

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology FindTaylor told The Speaker how in launching the Stanford Web Archive Portal, once they learned of the existence of the earliest US websites, this seemed the most intriguing choice.

“A major focus for Stanford University Libraries’ web archiving effort is preserving Stanford University’s institutional legacy. We thought that the SLAC earliest websites would be the most broadly interesting historical web content related to the University with which to launch the Stanford Web Archive Portal. That is to say, we didn’t explicitly set out to track down the oldest US website, per se, but became quickly interested once we learned about it.”

The lineage of the earliest US sites is a part European descendant-part original strain, Taylor told us.

“They’re necessarily derivative, in some sense; what made the Web was adherence to a common set of conventions (e.g., the syntax for a hyperlink). The SLAC ‘WWW Wizards’ built the first US website based upon the conventions formulated by Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world’s first website at CERN. In another sense, the first U.S. website was entirely home-grown, built foremost to serve the research needs of the SLAC research community.”

Taylor elaborated on this piece of digital archaeology was undertaken.

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology Find“You might say that there were two major digital archaeology efforts. One, SLAC’s previous recovery and preservation of the original website files, and two, Stanford University Libraries’ much subsequent restoration of access to the websites in their original temporal context, via the the Stanford Web Archive Portal.

We have the early sites back online today because of SLAC staff foresight.

“Essentially, SLAC staff that were involved with the early websites and, later, staff in the SLAC Archives and History Office had the wherewithal to retrieve, set aside, and document the files constituting the earliest websites,” said Taylor.

The sites were saved with their timesstamps, which are associated with the first version of a website, as well as subsequent versions.

“The original timestamps were preserved as part of the SLAC backup system for those servers and are a critical piece of context in understanding the restored content.

“We’re accustomed to thinking about the Web in two dimensions–i.e., as a flat plane that we navigate spatially. Web archives and the Memento protocol, in particular, offer the prospect of adding a third dimension to the Web–allowing users to see how it has changed over time and seamlessly navigate to archived versions of resources that have since disappeared.”

First Website Ever Made in US Brought to Light in Digital Archaeology FindTaylor commented on the nature of investigating the origins of the digital realm, and noted that we are close enough in time to still touch its ancestry.

“A last note about ‘digital archaeology,'” said Taylor, “unlike much archaeology, our digital archaeology effort had the benefit of being able to confer directly with the individuals who created these artifacts.”

Taylor encouraged everyone to support and celebrate the efforts of this “memory institution,” and take a look at our digital past in the artifacts they have recently preserved.

Stanford Wayback is part of the Libraries’ web archiving initiative, which aims to collect, preserve and provide access to web content that is at risk of being updated, replaced or lost.

By Andy Stern

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‘Joujou’ is another name for hope in the Brazilian wetlands

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A male jaguar named Joujou has returned to his home sweet home in the wild.

In Brazil he has become a symbol of the efforts of environmentalists, volunteers and firefighters to protect and restore a much affected strip of the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area, which was ravaged by the fires last year.

Little by little, vegetation returning to the Serra do Amolar, a chain of mountains considered an environmental treasure because of the large number of species it houses.

Before the fires, 62 jaguars had been monitored in the region. Today, researchers are unable to say how many have survived and how many have returned to their habitat, which was scorched in the worst sequence of fires in 14 years. Between January and September of 2020, 2.3 million acres have been on fire, an area which is two times as big as the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Joujou the catJoujou has become a symbol of hope because he was shown on national TV with his paws burned. Some Brazilians said they cried in front of the screen when they saw the big cat suffering so much. In November, two jaguars were rescued. They could barely move. One of them didn’t make it. Joujou was taken to a center for housing and treatment of wild animals in the city of Campo Grande, capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

After months of intensive care, this example of the Americas’ biggest feline has recovered entirely and was flown back to Pantanal. Joujou now has a tracking collar and will be monitored for a year. He reached the hospital weighing just a hundred pounds. He now weighs almost 180 pounds.

Many other animals – including anteaters, armadillos, snakes, alligators and other jaguars – did not survive the blaze. However, Joujou, beautiful and strong, has been returned home safe and sound.

By Jorge Valente

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The priest who left no sharp stones

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SAO PAOLO, Brazil – One of the most iconic figures in the fight for the homeless in the city of São Paulo has been in the spotlight since the beginning of February.

Father Julio Lancelotti learned that the City Hall’s authorities had decided to cover the ground under a bridge with pointed stones, a move to prevent the homeless from sleeping underneath.

A reputed advocate of human rights, father Lancelotti had no second thoughts about the line of action he was about to take.

With a sledgehammer in hand, he took to the streets and positioned himself right below the bridge. And then attacked and destroyed furiously what he considered another serious breach of human rights in a city already plagued by many other violations.

On social media he later posted a picture showing the result of his action and wrote, “Outrage against oppression”.

São Paulo is believed to have more than 24,000 homeless living below the poverty line, according to a 2019 survey. But Human Rights Watch groups say this number skyrocketed during the pandemic.

City Hall authorities said that the decision to put the stones under the bridge was an “isolated action” and had already fired the employee who was in charge of the task.

Father Lancelotti, however, was skeptical about this take on things, and said another similar action had already been done, commenting, “It’s inhuman, looks like a concentration camp.”

By Jorge Valente

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Tourists damage 1500-year-old Gate of the Sun and rock monoliths in Bolivia’s ancient city of Tiwanaku

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Four women and one man from the eastern city of Santa Cruz were charged with damaging the carved stone relics of the civilization that flourished for five centuries on the site, forerunner of the Inca empire. The pre-Columbian ruins are part of the country’s most important archaeological treasures.

After seeing what they described as “suspicious activity,” caretakers said the group splashed the structures with an oily substance that stained surfaces and that experts say would attract gases into the stone, causing internal changes and deterioration.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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Myanmar university students rally near Chinese embassy, protest SEAFOOD

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YANGON, Myanmar – University students in Yangon rallied near the Chinese embassy Feb. 27 and called for the Chinese government not to cooperate with the Myanmar military.

Protesters in Myanmar suspect that China is transporting hardware devices to build a firewall for controlling the internet in Myanmar. When the protesters asked the question, the embassy told them that China was sending SEAFOOD to Myanmar. “SEAFOOD” is defines as Software Engineering Approaches for Offshore and Outsourced Development.

There are three main telecommunication companies in Myanmar: MPT, Ooredo and Telenor have provided faster internet connections since 2014.

At present, there is an internet blackout between 1am to 9am daily throughout Myanmar, and when it is available, internet connections are slower than before the military grabbed power from the democratically-elected government.

By Htay Win
Featured image credit: Sit Htet Aung

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Japan’s ruling party to allow women to watch its board meetings, but no talking

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Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party will invite up to five of its female members of parliament to board meetings, but they should not speak. This was announced by the party as it took what it said was a step toward equality.

“It’s important to fully understand what kind of discussions are going on,” said Toshihiro Nikai, the LDP general secretary. “Look. That’s what it’s about.” Nakai added that women should not have a say in the proceedings but can submit suggestions in writing after the meetings have concluded.

The party’s action has sparked criticism from the opposition, which charges male chauvinism and discrimination against women is ingrained in the LDP, which depends on the voices of Japan’s strong nationalist circles with their traditional role models. They are tentative in grappling with women-friendly ideas, according to women’s groups, and progress is slow. The party’s make-up is 40% female, but women only hold 10% of its parliamentary seats, a figure far below the 25% global average.

According to the World Economic Forum 2020 report, Japan ranks 121 out of 153 countries in its gender parity global ranking.

By Milan Sime Martinic

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