Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Internet Archive

While listening one afternoon last spring in my car to my local NPR station I heard of a website named The Internet Archive. As explained very briefly on their home page,

"The Internet Archive is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public."

The person interviewed said that the site collected books, films, music and web pages. While all this sounded interesting what really caught my ear was the offhand statement that the site held hundreds of Grateful Dead concerts.

Being one of the original Dead Heads I wasted no time when I got back home going to the site. And yes, there were almost two thousand GD shows in various formats, including mp3. I quickly started downloading shows I had attended over the years. Over the next few months hundreds of recordings were added; currently there are 2,594. Anyway, I now can now listen again to every show I ever attended, including my first at the Fillmore East, NYC, January 2, 1971. Life is Good.

But wait, as they say on the TV ads, there is more. The archive also has plenty of current music by "trade friendly" bands. For example just a few days after attending Floyd Fest - see my November 4th post - I downloaded two performances I heard there by Donna The Buffalo and Railroad Earth. Both were excellent quality and quite legal.

No, you won't find downloads for most of your "major" performers. And the recordings are of live performances, with all the difficulties you might expect. But you might be amazed at the wonderful music being made today by people not backed by big record company money, MTV or Clear Channel, bands that sell their CD's after the concert in the back of the room, musicians who don't travel by private jet. And with the today's digital recording equipment in the hands of a motivated music geek, the sound quality usually rivals commercial releases. Life, as I said before, is Good.

And, as you will see when you travel to their website, music is far from the only thing they do. I recommend the Internet Archive.

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