That may sound like the title of some Indiana Jones flick or sword-and-sorcery novel, but it’s really how I spent an entertaining — if a bit obsessive-compulsive — hour this morning. I’ve written it up in some detail for possible use in a “how to find stuff on the Internet” lecture for one class or another.
UPDATE: Some 2012-2013 information added below.
It all started when Arielle Retting, the new editor of the campus Internet magazine called Whim, e-mailed to ask whether I knew where to find its back issues.
(Spoiler: If you just want to see the back issues, follow this “Old Whims” link — or read to the bottom to find out how it got there.)
I had never been involved with WHIM, except as a reader. Around the time I came to Radford, RU Whim made the transition to a WordPress CMS site. Before that, student programmers and designers had been creating a homemade, fresh-design-every-year site, not the most efficient way to build a Web publication, but a great way to learn and show what they could do… And they did some very creative things.
You can still do very creative things within WordPress, but the students who built entire sites clearly made theirs with pride and a sense of history. (And, I suspect, a practical goal of keeping their past creations available, so that their personal portfolios could link back to them during a job-hunt.)
A “redirect” replaced the last actual issue of Whim that had used the university flat-file server as its home page. Goodbye history.
To find out what went on at that site in previous semesters, I used my two favorite Web tools to track down some of that history: Google and Archive.org, and this blog item is here to show students how to do the same.
First, a Google “site” search:
Putting “site:radford.edu” at the beginning of a Google search for “Whim” found me a whole directory full of archived years on the university’s flat-file Web server:
and so forth, up to
Next, using the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive:
The original “home” page for Whim’s own archive has been deleted, but I found a copy at archive.org — and it wouldn’t take much to re-code the archival copy to make it point back to the complete originals, not the archive.org’s sometimes-incomplete copies. I gave that a try, using an editor called TextWrangler with global search-and-replace to insert full link URLs, then pasted the results into a WordPress page.
How they got there
The archive.org spiders brought back some pages of http://www.radford.edu/~whim almost every year from 2000 to 2006; you can see he results here:
(How did I know where to start looking? Like any person or organization on campus, Whim’s original address was http://www.radford.edu plus its name.)
You also can find scattered bits of Whim if you add the season numbers like “season 18” in quotes to the end of a Radford site search in Google: site:www.radford.edu whim “season 18”
Examining search results also gave me a hint of the original “flat file”
directory structure, which is still in place for the last edition that used it:
A working “Issues” dropdown menu on those pages goes deeper into the site, which looks like parts of “Season 18” and “Season 19” (2006), the year before I got here. Links to the “inside pages” still work, despite the “refer” block on the old “home page” http://www.radford.edu/~whim
For keeping an archive of more RECENT history, the student editors will have to get to know WordPress better than I do. Perhaps there’s a way to export a “flat file” copy of the current site structure each year. I was able to do that kind of conversion with my old blogging software (see http://stepno.com/oldblog), but haven’t had to try it with WordPress.
If you know a site that says how to do that, please post a link in the Comments here!