Old Kuwait is Digitally Disappearing

Post by Mark

Yesterday I was trying to find an article I had posted about an event that took place in Kuwait back in 1974. A friend of mine works right next to Souk Al Kabeer in Kuwait City and I thought she would be interested to know that during the construction of the building back in 74, it collapsed during the night while the construction workers were asleep and killed I believe around 40 or 50 people (I think?). I couldn’t find the article but the video above is taken from the AP archive shot that morning showing the aftermath.

I was flipping page by page through my 50s to 90s category on the blog trying to find the article and I couldn’t for some reason. But, I did realize something important, a lot of the videos of old Kuwait I had linked to or a lot of links to photo galleries of old Kuwait on other websites or blogs were now dead and no longer available.

familybookshop

It’s rare and difficult enough finding these treasures and so its pretty sad that many of them are no longer available to view. I was pissed off at myself and disappointed that I didn’t think of downloading or saving backups or hosting the images myself. I always considered it bad etiquette to find images on another blog and then host them all myself, I thought the proper thing to do would be to link back to the blog instead and send people there. Now I regret doing that, I shouldn’t trust other people with the responsibility of archiving history.

Thinking out loud I tweeted that I should probably set up a GoFundMe account where all the money collected would be used to purchase old footage and photos of Kuwait from the likes of Huntley Film Archives, Periscope Film, AP Archive, various Flickr accounts and the likes and then store them somewhere in the cloud for everyone to access and where it could remain permanently.

But then we’re back in the same situation, where you’re trusting a person (in this case me) to maintain and keep this archive, but what if something happens to me? Say for example one day while driving down the Gulf Road and my Datsun bursts into flames and I die, that means I won’t be able to continue to pay for hosting and maintaining that archive. Actually thats whats going to happen with my blog as well, probably stay up a month or two after I die, and then it would disappear forever along with the 10,000+ posts and over 200,000 of your comments.

This is why I think there needs to be a non profit organization that is responsible for archiving these important items. And I’m not talking about historically important films and artifacts, I’m talking about general random everyday stuff that people wouldn’t think of archiving from old Hardees ads to some guys family photos from the 60s (they’re wonderful). They don’t sound like very important items to archive but I personally think they are. They’re everyday life from a different era.

There actually might be a local organization that is doing this and I’m just not aware of it but I doubt it. KOC have a great in-house archive department which is extremely organized and one I’ve visited and written about [Here], but they are archiving their own content and not other peoples.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is an organization needs to be established and if anyone ever decides to do it then please invite me to be part of it. For now I’m going to spend this weekend skimming through my old 50s to 90s posts and make sure everything I’ve linked to I’ve also mirrored on my blog so if the source is dead the information is still here.


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12 comments, add your own...


  1. meh says:

    include in your funding the cost of 100 years of hosting

  2. Roots in the Ground says:

    There is. Ministry of Comm. has digitalized their archive of documentaries, movies, films, reports, news, images, etc… of everything dating back to when they first started along with collections from other personal collectors.

    unfortunately, back in the Gulf War alot was destroyed by the Iraqi Army when they went into the ministry.

    whatever is left of it has been archived though.

    However, whether the project is complete or not is unsure.

  3. k says:

    this post reeks of passion. man, i like your dedication.

  4. guywhoknowsaboutIA says:

    Great thinking, Mark, but just to let you know a website like this already exists. It’s called “The Internet Archive” and it has your website fully archived. The earliest snapshot of your website is from July 23 2001. Link here: http://web.archive.org/web/20010723005733/http://www.248am.com/

    And here’s the full archive: http://web.archive.org/web/*/248am.com

    For the photos, they should all be archived. For videos, I’m not sure.

    I suggest curbing some of your donations towards that website, or encouraging others to do so.

    • Mark says:

      Yeah I’m aware of the internet archive and I’ve tried my best to keep all the images for my blog (from day 1) in the same locations so you could access the earliest record of the domain and still see the page as it used to be without any broken links or images for example http://web.archive.org/web/20050303201557/http://www.248am.com/ everything on my blog still works the way it did back in 2005

      But thats not a practical solution for what I am suggesting in this specific case. My suggestion is for a very specific archive that would be open to the public like a museum.

      Web archive also doesn’t back up all the media files. For example here is a youtube video that no longer exists http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuWZ81lfwf8 and here is blog that had some old images of Kuwait posted once and web archive didn’t back up all the images of the blog yet alone that specific post which web archive doesn’t even acknowledge http://www.fereej.com/?p=1787

      And even if it was available on the web archive, you can’t expect people to go there and dig for the content every time they encounter a broken link.

  5. TheWebCapsule says:

    “See How Life Has Changed in the Middle East Over 58 Years”

    It’s a short film showcased by the National Geographic on their YouTube channel, it has a lot of old Kuwait photos, please have a look

    :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI1P-FjpA54

  6. Anwar Kh. says:

    hahaha it’s like i’ve been in a time machine and visited ur blog .. man great and funny posts! cheers mate

  7. AB says:

    Getting all of that material archived is a great idea. Finding a public institution to help host all of the images is an even better idea. I would check with the team at Shaheed Park – their General Manager is a really nice, approachable guy. Besides, something like this fits three of their four programming themes (Community, Education, Arts & Culture). Even if they don’t have the physical space to exhibit or allow the public to view these images, it might be worth considering them having the images hosted through their website or something. Just a thought.

    • Mark says:

      Well I didn’t mean a physical museum I meant an online one. You can reach out to a lot more people online than a physical space at a park which you might visit only once. They’re also a public government owned institution and from what I’ve been hearing with the issues happening behind the scenes at the park, at the cultural center and my experience, I would rather this be a private venture.

  8. Heather says:

    I realize that this is another government organization, but does the National Library have digital collections? It would be an amazing project! And I agree, incredibly important to preserving Kuwait’s visual and audio history. How about one of the universities? This is the kind of thing that might be created in the U.S. via a university special collections in the library, or by the Library of Congress, the National Archives…

    Perhaps a collaborative effort with a graduate program? There always seem to be grants out there for this kind of thing.


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