At the Internet Archive's headquarters in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday, technologists, educators, archivists, and others fact-oriented folks gathered to discuss how they and the like-minded can save news from the memory hole – a conceit conjured by George Orwell to describe a political mechanism for altering the truth. 

The event, Dodging the Memory Hole 2017, was the fifth such gathering since 2014, sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. It comes at a time when news publishers in the US faces heightened hostility from the Trump administration, not to mention ongoing revenue pressure.

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library, explained founder Brewster Kahle during his keynote presentation. The Archive's goal, he said, is to provide universal access to all knowledge. In that it echoes Google's self-avowed aspiration, but without the ads, data harvesting or commercial chicanery. And with a handy little copyright exemption.

The organization is based in an old and rather grand Christian Science church in the Richmond district of San Francisco, and it keeps online copies of books, audio and video recordings, texts, software, and more, like you'd expect from a digital library. It is best known, perhaps, for the Wayback Machine: a backup cache of 308 billion webpages scraped automatically from the public internet. The data is stored on servers in California with a total capacity of 35PB – 10PB of which we saw sitting at the back of the church.

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