Our disappearing web

Garret McMahon is right. He looked at the just-put-up “old Google” from 2001 (lots of fun to do searches and see what Google looked like back then, that index was done just a few days after I started blogging) and he noticed that lots of things that were on the Web back then are gone.

My blog, for instance, is gone for the first year and a half.

Funny, just the other night I met Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle who was flying home on the plane I was on. We talked about this issue and he said it is troubling but that they are trying to catch a lot more now. He invited me over to meet the team, which we’ll do soon. I also visited the Library of Congress a couple of weeks ago and talked with some of their top archivists. They told me story after story of human knowledge and historical documents from our lifetimes that were destroyed. Heck, the Library of Congress itself has been destroyed by fire twice. I visited Thomas Jefferson’s library which was sold to the Library to get it started again after a fire wiped out its collections. Then, later, another fire wiped out a good chunk of his collection again.

I seriously doubt these words will survive 100 years. What about you?

71 thoughts on “Our disappearing web

  1. I think that all web creation tools/packages and all web sites should have a button availible to their creators that, once pressed, sends the web page to sites like the internet archive that strips off the security bits and pieces and just saves the important parts for future people to access. It is sad that when information storage devices grow exponentially in size, that we lose these old web sites due to hardware/software crashes.

  2. I think that all web creation tools/packages and all web sites should have a button availible to their creators that, once pressed, sends the web page to sites like the internet archive that strips off the security bits and pieces and just saves the important parts for future people to access. It is sad that when information storage devices grow exponentially in size, that we lose these old web sites due to hardware/software crashes.

  3. With as much new content being added to the web each and every day, I don’t see how stuff cannot disappear.. Think of it this way, if it did not.. how much more redundant would searches be than they already are?

  4. With as much new content being added to the web each and every day, I don’t see how stuff cannot disappear.. Think of it this way, if it did not.. how much more redundant would searches be than they already are?

  5. The Hotmail ad comment is simply mean. I suppose techies should know better–in fact, true techies should send their letters from gmail–but the culprit here is Hotmail.

  6. The Hotmail ad comment is simply mean. I suppose techies should know better–in fact, true techies should send their letters from gmail–but the culprit here is Hotmail.

  7. Reminds me of EH Carr’s observation in What is History?

    He was writing a thesis on the Peloponnesian War, and had on his desk a stack of volumes containing pretty much everything that had been written on the subject. This made him wonder how, of everything that had ever been observed and known about the war, these few volumes came to be “the facts” and “the history” of the war.

    In many respects, we have acquired outsized expectations for what should last and in what amount of detail.

  8. Reminds me of EH Carr’s observation in What is History?

    He was writing a thesis on the Peloponnesian War, and had on his desk a stack of volumes containing pretty much everything that had been written on the subject. This made him wonder how, of everything that had ever been observed and known about the war, these few volumes came to be “the facts” and “the history” of the war.

    In many respects, we have acquired outsized expectations for what should last and in what amount of detail.

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