AT 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day—all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration.
By the end of the day, the group had collectively loaded 3,692 NOAA web pages onto the Internet Archive, and found ways to download 17 particularly hard-to-crack data sets from the EPA, NOAA, and the Department of Energy. Organizers have already laid plans for several more data rescue events in the coming weeks, and a professor from NYU was talking hopefully about hosting one at his university in February. But suddenly, their timeline became more urgent.
On the day that the Inside EPA report came out, an email from O’Brien popped up on my phone with “Red Fucking Alert” in the subject line.“We’re archiving everything we can.”
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