Susan Kistler on Exploring Your Evaluand’s History With the Wayback Machine

My name is Susan Kistler and I am the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director Emeritus and aea365’s regular Saturday contributor.

Last week, I saw the new Star Trek movie (yes, my inner geek shines through once again). Part of its premise was that a team had been asleep for years, only to awake and wreak havoc on the Star Trek crew. You would never do that, you would draw on the past to improve the future of course because evaluators are a good lot. That is why today I’m sharing information about the Wayback Machine.

Rad Resource – The Wayback Machine: The Wayback Machine allows you to look at the history of a website over time. You visit the Wayback webpage, enter the URL for the site in which you are interested, and you can see how the site looked historically, with most of the formatting and the links intact.

Clipped from: (share this clip)


Here’s a screenshot of the AEA website in February of this year:


And in August of 2004:


And in December of 1998:Dec1998

If you are were exploring it on the Wayback Machine website, you’d be able to try out most of the links and read the content of each page.

Why is it useful? This is a great way to do background research on your evaluand, to understand issues of explore change over time as reflected in their web presence. If your evaluation includes an examination of your evaluand’s communications, the Wayback machine can also help you see how those communications played out online.

There are a few caveats – formatting is better for some sites than for others, and you can’t see a snapshot of every day in history for a site, only at times when the web crawler used by the Internet Archive visited the site.

The Wayback Machine takes all of 2 minutes to use and explore. And, its even a bit of fun, in particular if you are an historian at heart.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association.

1 thought on “Susan Kistler on Exploring Your Evaluand’s History With the Wayback Machine”

  1. Pingback: Sheila B Robinson on Evaluation…Better Evaluation! · AEA365

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.