Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 10:09 AM

The problem with archiving

  1. I've been writing about future-safe archives here for quite a while.

  2. Summary: Our archives suck. We're losing lots of history all the time.

  3. We should get systematic about it, so it's easy, so you don't even have to think about it.

  4. Because: We almost never do think about archiving. Myself included. I always want to dig new holes, not create archives of the ones I dug in the past.

  5. It's a constant drag, in the back of my mind, making me wonder if any of this work is worth it, because if it doesn't exist a couple of years from now, no one can learn from it, build on it. Why not make pottery? It's likely to last longer.

  6. I have gotten somewhat systematic about it, and the archive of is reasonably complete going back to 1994. But the things that hang off it, they're largely gone, the further back you go. For a demo have a look at the archive for a history-filled month, September 2001. Click on some links. You'll get a quick idea of how bad things are, how ephemeral our work is.

  7. What to do? See below.

Actually, I do have some ideas

  1. Keep an archive for your own blog. Perhaps download a rendering of the site to a folder in dropbox once a week. If you don't know how to do this, find out how. There's software that can do it for you. It may be hard to find, but it's there.

  2. Work with the developers of your blogging or content management software to add automatic archiving. Make sure everything you create for the site is stored safely on a backed up server.

  3. Create static pages when possible, and use formats that lots of others use. There's safety in numbers.

  4. Speak up when platform vendors deprecate popular formats or protocols. When they do this, often large amounts of archived material becomes inaccessible. Also object when they label technology that your site depends on as "legacy."

Last built: Sun, Oct 4, 2015 at 6:18 AM

By Dave Winer, Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 10:09 AM. Good for the environment.