Web Archiving + Emulation

Ilya Kreymer & Dragan Espenschied

14 Web Arrchives
Part of "the Collaborative Archive of the Web"

Thank you!

Memento Aggregation

  • Uses ODU Memento Aggregator by Sawood Alam
  • Aggregates from multiple TimeGate API calls
  • Finds closest match from available archives
  • Any unaltered web archive can be included

Memento Aggregation

  • Requested date and actual date
  • Count and date range of embeds
  • List the archives used
  • Can surface additional metadata

Why oldweb.today?

Common Web Archive Replay Problems

and possible Solutions!

  • Web Archive 'leaks' to live web
  • Live leaks not possible

  • Improperly rewritten dynamic urls
  • No Rewriting needed!

  • Pages "don't appear the same" (no <blink>, etc..)
  • Use era-appropriate browsers

  • Flash, Java, Shockwave, other legacy content
  • Pre-configured environments

Architecture and Concepts

A layered Architecture

  • Web archives provide Web pages
  • Web pages running in Browsers
  • Browsers running in Emulators
  • Emulators running in Containers
  • Containers running in a VM
  • Screen of container streamed to client

Differences from other
Emulation Frameworks

  • Designed specifically for web archives
  • The browser is the platform for web pages
  • The OS is secondary to the browser
  • Timing latency less critical for the web

Web (HTTP) emulation

  • Not general Internet emulation
  • HTTP hasn't changed much since 1.0 release
  • HTTP can route all traffic through a Proxy Server
  • A Proxy Server can be used to serve archived content
  • Difficult to configure manually just to view an archive...
  • ...but easy if pre-configured in a "container"


  • More lightweight than VMs, use less resources
  • 'Contain' programs, data and file systems that can be deployed rapidly
  • oldweb.today supports roughly 5-6 browser containers per CPU (Amazon EC2)
  • Docker is a popular, open-source container system

Cultural Impact

The web as performative media

oldweb.today makes the variability of the web tangible.

The web has, since the advent of client-side scripting in 1995, been a software delivery system rather than a document delivery system.

Software Curation

Absence of technically technically complex artifacts in classic web archives

As web archiving techniques improve (for instance with Webrecorder), the preservation of software environments that the web can be performed within becomes essential.

oldweb.today features “typical web browsing environments.”

Curation of environments enables access.

Evolt browser archive, Browser diagram

User feedback and press

Favorite Quotes

How I surfed the web 1990s-style

Travel Log

Travel Back In Time To The Ancient Internet

Perception of Time

Browse the web like it's 1999

The Matrix

This Site Lets You Browse the Web Like a Real Human Person From the 90s

Users, not Software!

Surfing old websites using Netscape Navigator, like an Internet hipster

Activity vs Atrifact

Take a trip down the AOL and dial-up era.


Oldweb.today lets you revisit how painfully slow and ugly the Web used to be

No Comment!!1


Reduced speed perceived as authentic

Transparent medium becomes opaque again

Users keep requesting exotic environments.

Future Work

  • Audio Support
  • Automated Browser Suggestions
  • Additional and Refined Browser Environments

Webrecorder Integration

oldweb.today is 100% open source


Contributors welcome!

Ilya Kreymer

Dragan Espenschied


Join our Webrecorder Workshop on Friday, 9:00!

Track 2 — Hekla