January 18, 2012, 7:49 AM —
If you haven’t heard about Wikipedia choosing to go black today, you soon will. One coworker or another will go to look up something, you know, work-related. And then they’ll say, out loud to nobody in particular, “Ugh, now I’ll have to actually look up who the guitarist in the Screaming Trees was!” You can tell them about a quick URL trick, or tell them to just use their phone.
For the English-language Wikipedia page, at least, visits from a recognizable mobile browser are redirected to a mobile page that isn’t blacked out in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Protect IP Act (PIPA), and in furtherance of spreading the word. But any browser can visit a page starting with
en.m.wikipedia.org to access a Wikipedia page today.
What about other sites? Well, if you’re on your phone, there’s a good chance that other sites, similar to Wikipedia, haven’t gone to the trouble of “blacking out” their mobile versions, so adding an “
m.” before a URL, or a “
/m” after an address, can pay off. But you can also use Google’s cache version of a page to find older material online. The thing is, though, Google’s made the cached version a bit harder to find.
To get to a cached page on a mobile browser, search out the page you’re looking for on Google. Now look to the right of that page for a tiny magnifying glass icon. Click that icon, and you’ll land on a “preview” of the page. Below those images, in small gray-on-black type, you’ll find a link to Google’s cached copy of that page.
Obviously, Google’s cache won’t give you the most up-to-date version of frequently updated sites like Reddit, but for everything else, it’s a make-do solution. Note that this method is very similar to how you find a cached copy in a full desktop version of Google searches--hover over a “preview” icon to the right of your result, then click the small “Cached” link.
All this is not to suggest you do your best to ignore the conversation over intellectual property, copyright, and the nature of the internet. But if you really need a page, whether for research or to shut up Jimmy with his endless 90’s alt-rock trivia, your phone, and phone-like pages, are your best bet today.