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Should Sites Be "Saved for History"

     
12:13 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Should Sites Be "Saved for History" [guardian.co.uk]
Historians face a "black hole" of lost material unless urgent action is taken to preserve websites and other digital records, the head of the British Library has warned.

Just as families store digital photos on computers which might never be passed on to their descendants, so Britain's cultural heritage is at risk as the internet evolves and technologies become obsolete, says Lynne Brindley, the library's chief executive.
Writing in today's Observer, Brindley cites two examples of losses overseas. When Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president last week, all traces of George Bush disappeared from the White House website, including a booklet entitled 100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration, which is no longer accessible.

1:50 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps there is some truth in this but if I have a website that offers information and for whatever reason I want to stop offering this information then I should be allowed to do so.

I can also understand why the White House would want to delete all traces of George Bush. ;)


"You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President."
George W. Bush, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008
3:27 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration

Funny, I have one called "100 Bushisms". We should keep 1.

I don't really think that's a great loss.

I think this question really depends on the content. Keeping brochures of old products that no longer exist, pointless. Who's got last years Yellow Pages?

What about product reviews, and articles on 'new' technology. In 10 years it may be used to say "look, we really did pay that much for a computer!". But other than that, historical uses would be handled by collectors groups, or Wiki.

The Bush era/legacy, I'm sure there will be 100s of books on the subject, so it's not exactly lost is it?

Intellectual content, ebooks for example, you'd assume the author would do as they see fit, if the material is popular keep it, either online or archived. If not, it's not worth keeping.

3:58 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Printed books are routinely kept for posterity in various national archives (like the British Library and the Library of Congress). The same should apply to digital equivalents.
5:08 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Funny that the article doesn't mention the Internet Archive (aka Wayback Machine). It is the largest copyright violator on this planet, but it also is a goldmine for future historians.
5:21 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes, any unique, meaningful content that has historical relevancy should be retained if at all possible. As another example, an Internet celebrity was killed in 2004, and the main site he was featured on was replaced with a very touching memorial. The domain later lapsed, and the memorial is hard to find now, even though there's an intact copy on archive.org.
5:45 pm on Jan 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

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rated as US president last week, all traces of George Bush disappeared from the White House website, including a booklet entitled 100 Things Americans May Not Know About the Bush Administration,
The article makes a good point. I wish I'd thought to ScrapBook some of Bush's content at whitehouse.gov before he left office. Fortunately at least one copy of the PDF file booklet is still available online (search by the title).

On the other hand, the current whitehouse.gov can't go 404 soon enough to suit me...

3:02 am on Jan 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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interesting that RonPK mentions archive.org.

we've been having long discussions about whether ot ban their scraper engine altogether.

For example, once you delete a post from YOUR site, it could still be on the archive even tho you want it totally gone - correction, deleting copyright or libelous post, etc.

And since they take 6 months to post, after scraping, someone else could copy your site, be 'archived' first then would show up as earlier date, harder to threaten them to take down your copyrighted content.

Plus they also sell data from the sites they scrape.

9:11 pm on Jan 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I agree, there should be a record... that people can OPT-IN to.

Its my content. Its my site. Its my copyright. If I take a copy of someone else's stuff, I'll get sued, and justly so.

Now why should it be any different for anyone else? Why should I have to ban these pesky "archive" engines?

I'm sure a lot of scrapers would love to claim they are just "saving my site for posterity".

Basically, this is just the typical case where, if a big company with enough resources decides to do it, there is a "reason". But if a small company/individual decides to do it, it's illegal.

10:03 pm on Jan 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Opt-in defeats the purpose of an archive, because most people who don't care one way or another won't bother to opt-in.

I'm sure a lot of scrapers would love to claim they are just "saving my site for posterity".

Upon examination, it's easy to tell if they're truly an archive, or if they're just ripping off individual sites.
11:34 pm on Jan 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

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...which is no longer accessible.

Online - for the moment - or are they saying that the material no longer exists publicly?

Syzygy

9:57 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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The original quote comes from the national archive of printed material. With a move to web based publishing I can understand their concern that things that would previously have been kept may now be lost.

The mechanics of archiving are another matter entirely.

11:56 pm on Feb 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

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With a move to web based publishing I can understand their concern that things that would previously have been kept may now be lost.

Did no one press the 'print' button?

The original quote comes from the national archive of printed material.

Hurrah - it is saved!

Or, is it the style sheet that's more important?

3:41 am on Feb 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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waybackmachine ( [web.archive.org...] )

would take you back to George Washington time's.

4:18 am on Feb 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I don't like the dilution effect of archive.org, thus have banned them. HOWEVER, the concept of preservation is one that should be explored. There are many good sites that have vanished over the years...whether just quit or the creator has died...and that info is gone. That said, the REDUNDANCY of information out there these days is enormous, which is one of the reasons why everyone is fighting for that perfect keyword. And with the scrapers working overtime preservation of general content should not be a worry, but the transmutation of that content by idiots failing to scrape it properly is an additional problem.