2022-09-06: Why Care About The Past - Hurricane Katrina Edition

The 17th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the US Gulf Coast was just a few days ago (made landfall August 29, 2005). Since I am from Louisiana and my in-laws live in Gulfport, MS, near where the storm made landfall, this was a huge event in my life. I was living in South Carolina at the time and remember watching 24-hour news coverage of the storm's aftermath and scouring online resources to help find a route with working gas stations for my in-laws to safely evacuate to my parents' house in Louisiana.  Most people might associate the storm with the flooding of New Orleans, but that actually didn't happen until a couple days after the storm's landfall to the east of New Orleans. 

In 2010, Michael Nelson and I wanted to build an example to show why web archiving is important, after he received a paper review asking if there was data to show that "Web users would like to get obsolete data or resources", meaning archived webpages. Since at that time, Hurricane Katrina was relatively recent and CNN.com was one of the main sources of online news, we decided to tell the story of Hurricane Katrina by taking screenshots of the CNN.com homepage from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. While looking through the Wayback Machine for suitable mementos, I found myself emotionally reacting to the webpages that I was seeing. This only reinforced our conviction that viewing contemporary webpages about an event provides a stronger experience than just reading a summary about the event. We put together a set of slides that we titled "Why Care About the Past?" and originally shared them via SlideShare, but this now requires a login.  

We've updated the slides and can more easily share them publicly via Google Slides ("Why Care About the Past? Hurricane Katrina Edition"). We've also included a screenshot of each memento below with a link to the memento in the Wayback Machine.

But because I found that viewing the webpages in succession provides a stronger emotional experience, we've also put them together in auto-play slideshow mode.

Summary Pages (CNN, Wikipedia)

Mementos from the Wayback Machine

August 27, 2005