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The Walter Darby Bannard Archive Returns

Post #1684 • April 22, 2014, 11:34 AM • 1 Comment

And here it is.

After this disaster I wondered if I could get it back. Fortunately some of the modernists in my life are rather technical people, as I suppose I am. After a few hours of research, one especially helpful suggestion from a programmer in Baltimore, Greg Smith, after I bellyached about this on Facebook, and a few more hours of research and tweaking, I was able to scrape the html out of the Wayback Machine with this command in a shell:

wget --mirror -p --convert-links -r -e robots=off -np

wget is program that retrieves resources over HTTP and the like. --mirror turns on recursion to infinite depth and time-stamping. -p tells wget to retrieve everything the page needs to display properly, such as stylesheets. --convert-links waits until the files are downloaded and then changes the links so that they display properly on the local machine. I shouldn't have used -r—it turns recursion on and was redundant with --mirror. -e allows you to override settings in wget, in this case the one that honors robots.txt instructions to not scrape a site. Since this is the case at and I had an emergency, I asked Wayback to pardon my manners and went ahead and scraped it. -np stops recursion from going back up above the parent directory, and thereby scraping the entire Internet, basically attempting to produce a bad version of Google on your local machine until you run out of memory. The last field is the URL of the WDBA at (Kind of. You get the idea.)

All the information was there, sitting in a ridiculous file structure and heavily sprayed with Javascript and HTML from Wayback, but it was there. At that point, John Link spent two weeks cleaning it up file by file and stitching it back together into a website that would run locally. Yes, we lost the database and the PHP that used to run the site, but since we expect it to grow slowly in the future we decided that we could live without them. So we have a static site instead, which is fine, and certainly better than nothing at all.

John has done a wonderful thing for contemporary art history and deserves accolades galore. Thank you, John.

Is this your first time reading from the archive? There are some jewels in there. I especially recommend The War Against the Good in Art from 1972, Craft and Art Envy from 1986, and Artbroken: What Art Is and How We Stopped Making It, but I spent many edifying hours putting this together and I recommend the material therein on the highest terms. I am also quite relieved to see it back online.



John Link

April 22, 2014, 1:50 PM

Putting it back together was not near as much work as putting it together in the first place. But more than that, the design of the site is an inspiration for understanding the difference between necessity and pseudo-necessity. Everything that is needed is there, but nothing that is not. It is an elegant design that does its job with extraordinary cleanliness.



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