Friday, August 28, 2015

The Internet Is Failing The Website Preservation Test

The Internet Is Failing The Website Preservation Test. Ron Miller. Tech Crunch. August 27, 2015.
     Article about an author finding out that information may not remain on the internet very long. There are issues with content preservation on the internet. "If the internet is at its core is a system of record, then it is failing to complete that mission." When websites disappear, all of the content may disappear as though it never existed. That "can have a much bigger impact than you imagine on researchers, scholars" or others.  The content "should all be automatically archived, a digital Library of Congress to preserve and protect all of the content on the internet."

Publishers cannot be relied upon to keep an historical record. "When it no longer serves a website owner’s commercial purposes, the content can disappear forever." That will leave large gaps in the online record. “So much of our communication and content consumption now ... is online and in digital form. We rely on publishers (whether entertainment, corporate, scientific, political) that have moved to predominantly, if not exclusively, digital formats. Once gone or removed from online access we incur black holes in our [online] memory”. The lost content "extends to science, law, education, and all sorts of other cultural aspects that depend on referencing a stable and informative past to build our knowledge for the present. The loss is pernicious, because we don’t immediately notice it - it’s only over time we realize what we have lost." The problem of link rot extends to many areas, including the legal profession where it is having an enormous impact on legal research.

Organizations, such as The Internet Archive, can offer partial solutions, but it can be a challenge to find what we are looking for in the vast archive. The access tools are lacking. "Content preservation should not be the sole responsibility of individuals or businesses. We have to find a way to make it an official part of the coding process." We should try to find "automated technological solutions to preserve our content for future generations. At the very least, we are duty bound to try."

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