clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Internet Archive Chairman Brewster Kahle: The web is ‘not fun and games any more’

Kahle says preserving the web — and traditions of openness and net neutrality — is more important than ever under the Trump administration.

CC BY 2.0 - Joi Ito

Brewster Kahle, the entepreneur-turned-chairman of the Internet Archive, has a George Orwell saying on his mind: “If we allow those who control the present to control the past, then they control the future.”

This thought, pulled from Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” guides today’s work at the nonprofit Archive, which turned 20 years old last fall. The average life of a web page is 100 days, Kahle said on the latest Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, and “most of the best of the web is already off the web.”

“What we try to do is, if people saw it before, they can see it again,” Kahle said. “If you can’t refer back to things, if you can’t quote what happened before, then you can’t compare and contrast. I have kids in college — that’s what thinking critically is.”

Speaking with Swisher before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Kahle expressed concern about the new presidential administration’s opposition to both journalism and net neutrality. He warned that the openness of the world wide web is “just embedded in a few laws” and could easily be torn down.

“It’s not fun and games any more,” Kahle said. “It’s not, ‘Oh, isn’t this a cool new widget?’ It’s how we understand our world, it’s how we interact with each other, and it’s all quite controllable.”

“We need to show why openness works better,” he added. “You wind up with companies that thrive better. With standards, you have more competition that builds more jobs. Openness is a win.”

You can listen to Recode Decode in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

This article originally appeared on