Don’t know how I missed this, but Internet Archive back in October of 2019 released a new feature on its Wayback Machine to enable users easily to compare different versions of an archived web page. I’ve been hoping for such a feature for a while as a crucial tool for Digital History / Digital Humanities and even made inquires to private software companies about developing it. I’m elated that the adept and agile team at Wayback Machine built it directly into their UI.
This new feature has been highlighted in various tech blogs, and yesterday in a blog post by a journalist noting its importance for fact-checking.
The usefulness of the “Changes” (compare) feature in the Wayback Machine extends well beyond Digital History and Journalism. It should be considered an essential tool for vocational portfolios and professional files for anyone working on online content and web development.
The main “Changes” page is a permalink itself (see the word “changes” embedded in the URL).
Once you’ve selected your two page versions to compare and initiated the comparison, the resulting differences page is rendered as a permalink (see the word “diff” and two page date and time stamps embedded in the URL below).
This permalink and dynamic comparison is ideal to put in a portfolio to show how you or your team made changes to a given website. This comparison is a perfect, permalinked, evergreen visualization of the work that the Library Web Team at CSUF’s Pollak Library (with key leadership by Mike DeMars, David Palmquist, and Joy Lambert) did to make major improvements to the layout and navigation of its site between 2016 and 2018.
Embedding a link in a personnel or RTP file is a far simpler and more sustainable route to document this work than printing out pdfs or saving screenshots.
Kudos to the Wayback Machine team, led by Mark Graham, to make their platform that much more vital and useful!