“People build these communities without really recognizing what they are, then they suddenly realize, we’re out of money, we’ve changed priorities, we’ve been acquired—they decide to jettison their material,” Scott said. “That’s when we step in. We grab a copy of it for posterity, just because the conversation stops when the data is gone. We take a backup so that somebody can make use of it down the line.”
One of the archives promises that, just because a page isn’t displayed, it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever: “It may simply mean that we haven’t gotten around to restoring it.”
“Your page isn’t gone,” Scott said, when I mentioned my search. “It’s just in a quantum state.”
Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of examples of “ruin porn“, a new category of urban architectural photography that depicts the rapidly increasing decaying process of major urban centers like Detroit, Baltimore and Cincinnati. These images inspired a project in which I’ve been taking pictures of abandoned spaces in the virtual world Second Life, which led to me being interviewed on Marketplace on National Public Radio.