Searching for permanence: A Manifesto for Preserving Content on the Web

When I came across this link, I was motivated by curiosity to see why it had made it to my reading list. I realized that it only serves to highlight the old notions of “romanticism” and the innate desire of academics to “leave behind a legacy”.

However, it also highlights the issues related to relying on the technology platforms to maintain the content. We are condemned if we don’t learn from the history and as the ensuing discussion goes, the Interweb is littered with debris of what were once thriving communities. They are ghost towns.

This is more than just link rot, it’s the increasing complexity of keeping alive indie content on the web, leading to a reliance on platforms and time-sorted publication formats (blogs, feeds, tweets). Of course, I have also contributed to the problem.

A paper I published 7 years ago has an abstract that includes a demo link, which has been taken over by a spammy page with a pumpkin picture on it. Part of that lapse was laziness to avoid having to renew and keep a functioning web application up year after year.

I’ve recommended my students to push websites to Heroku, and publish portfolios on Wix. Yet every platform with irreplaceable content dies off some day. Geocities, LiveJournal, what.cd, now Yahoo Groups. One day, Medium, Twitter, and even hosting services like GitHub Pages will be plundered then discarded when they can no longer grows or cannot find a working business model.

This Page is Designed to Last: A Manifesto for Preserving Content on the Web

I think the issues are more related to finding sustainability. Technology changes. People and ideas change. Permanence is a for stones.

Internet is not for archiving- it is an ephemeral medium. It is designed to “shrink distances” (and now more sinisterly surveillance on users through technology dominance). It was never meant for archival purpose. If we realize this, it makes it easier to consume content. I may not have the wherewithal to keep this blog up and about- maybe, I’ll drop it if it serves my end goals.

However, till then, it serves my purpose of finding deeper connect to issues which interact locally to create a global impact. Those connections are in a state of flux and offer a better understanding of what others perceive as chaos. Herein, lies a deeper construct and meaning to what we are looking for.