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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 19:09, 27 February 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 6 xkcd comics, and only 2096 (34933%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

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Internet Archive
The fact that things like the npm left-pad incident are so rare is oddly reassuring.
Title text: The fact that things like the npm left-pad incident are so rare is oddly reassuring.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

The Internet Archive is a project that is invaluable for internet research. It is a public archive of information, including public domain books and music. It also runs the Wayback Machine, an archive of backups of web pages all over the Web at various times that can be used to see past versions of a page, even if that site has since shut down. The Internet Archive accepts submissions of any type of information, including new backups of web pages and newly-made public domain content.

Ponytail and Cueball first remark upon how weird the concept of the Internet Archive is. They claim that it would seem like an implausible concept, were it not already existing.

They then become more philosophical, and wonder about systems that are maintained by a few users, but which could disappear if not maintained. They relate this to the function of the human body, which does contain many systems whose function and inner workings are incomprehensible to the average person.

The title text refers to the "npm left-pad incident", a 2016 incident where a package for the npm package manager was unpublished by its author. As this particular package was used by many projects, both directly and indirectly, this caused a severe disruption in the software world. Randall is relieved that cases like this do not occur more frequently.

The Internet Archive was also mentioned in 2085: arXiv.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Ponytail and Cueball are walking to the right.]
Ponytail: The Internet Archive is so weird. If it didn't exist, it would sound totally implausible.
Cueball: Seriously.
[Ponytail and Cueball continue walking to the right.]
Cueball: Do you ever worry about how reliant we are on systems that someone happens to maintain for some reason but which could disappear at any time?
[Ponytail and Cueball are seen in silhouette from a distance.]
Ponytail: Yeah - the same thing freaks me out about having a body.
Cueball: I know, right?? I don't even know what half these parts do!
Ponytail: And yet if they stop, we die!
Cueball: Probably best not to think about it.

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