Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Impermanence of Web Content...

This is something I've dealt with over the years.  Rubble started as a web site on AT&T@Home.  When they became Comcast, I drifted to Geocities.  Those sites are all long gone now.  As I've written, this blog had at least one home before landing here in 2001.  All those old entries are lost.  Even this blog has changed shape over the years, and much of its original content has been moved elsewhere.  The web content is still on my hard drive, though.  But, I worry about this when I look at archiving photos on the web, and writing, too.  In theory, I like to write on my computer and then cut and past entries into these blogs, keeping a record on my hard drive, but in day to day practice?  Not so much...  And photos?  If someone stole my laptop, I'd be relying on Facebook for copies of most of my photos over the last few years.  Yeah, there are better solutions for backing up data, but best practices are often the goal, not the reality.

Anyway, these thoughts were inspired by this article.

Friendster to Erase Early Posts and Old Photos (By JENNA WORTHAM Published: April 26, 2011)

From the article:

“The impermanence of the Web used to be a way of life,” she said. “A site could be gone in weeks, months. But Google and Gmail came along and changed that, and now we always expect to have a copy of our lives online.”

Friendster’s plans to strip the service of older material reminded some of Yahoo’s move in April 2009 to pull the plug on GeoCities, an early provider of free Web home pages. At the time, Internet tinkerers and historians worked to keep the site’s millions of pages from disappearing forever. Jason Scott is the founder of a group called the Archive Team that tries to save such online content. He recently rallied efforts to preserve clips from Google Video, which Google is shutting down in favor of the more popular YouTube.

Mr. Scott said that the shuttering of social Web services and online communities was a “critical cultural issue.”

“This is the everyday neural activity of a world, of a society, scooped up and saved,” he said. “To me, that’s completely valuable and worthwhile to make sure it is saved for the future.”

Mr. Scott said his group planned to try to download as much of Friendster’s public data as possible before it is erased at the end of May, and to make it available online in some form.

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