Harvard wants $25M for printers to make hard-copies of top websites

CAMBRIDGE: Harvard University has long been known to take bold steps in advancing human knowledge but this time they may have bitten off more than they can chew. It seems a research project to make a hard-copy archive of the web’s top 100 sites is facing major hurdles as current printer technology cannot keep pace with the proliferation of new online content.

The team currently rents a small warehouse in the Back Bay neighborhood in Boston which houses approximately 50 printers. Apparently that’s not enough says one researcher, “the printers are simply too slow and keep jamming. In hindsight, we should have invested in more industrial printers versus these HP 8600 all-in-one machines.”

The research study was spun out of a broader program by a team of top academics at Harvard, which aims to create disaster recovery systems of the world’s most important information. “Simply having a few thousand computers with redundant information on multiple continents and with state-of-the-art security does not fully protect against all possible threats,” says one of the lead researchers. “The only way to truly create a secure backup is to have a hardcopy version stored in a safe, dry environment.”

“The printers are simply too slow and keep jamming. In hindsight, we should have invested in more industrial printers versus these HP 8600 all-in-one machines.”
With the additional $25 million, the team hopes to buy another thousand HP all-in-one printers to vastly increase their output. “With these additional printers, we will be able to exponentially increase our ability to print content from the top 100 websites in the world. At that point, our only constraint will be the constant need to refill the paper trays,” said one of the researchers.

It is unclear where the team expects to get the money. Some sources with inside knowledge have said that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has called the request “ludicrous” and is not likely to contribute additional funds. One person close to the project was quoted as saying, “we’ll probably need to get one of those rich Silicon Valley dorks to close our funding gap.”