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History disappearing rapidly in online world

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by I Should Coco, Oct 16, 2015.

  1. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    This a great piece (although a bit long) from The Atlantic about how even highly-valued/"important" stuff posted online can easily disappear without a trace:

    The Internet's Dark Ages

    For their main example, they reference a Pulitzer Prize-nominated series from The Rocky Mountain News, "The Crossing," which was published in 2007. The reporter did tons of research about a tragic 1961 bus accident and how it still affects families 40-plus years later.

    When "The Rocky" was shut down in 2009, it didn't take long for stories/articles/bonus material on the paper's web site to simply vanish after Scripps stopped maintaining the site.

    Anyway, a good read about an important issue for those of us who care about preserving history.
  2. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I read this a couple of days ago.

    My best guess is that historians are going to have a helluva time trying to figure what went down.

    But it isn't just web sites, think about all the forms of media that wouldn't work if you didn't have the right player.

    All of that will be gone.
  3. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    No kidding, Jay. How many computers even have slots for CDroms anymore? Let alone stuff saved on "floppy disc," cassettes, film negatives ...

    At least old issues of Playboy can be dug up decades into the future, if SJ.com posters are any indication. :D
  4. SpeedTchr

    SpeedTchr Well-Known Member

    Great piece, and raises a good point about the destruction or loss of digital material. Many university athletic sites now block the efforts of archiving sites with messages similar to this:
    Page cannot be crawled or displayed due to robots.txt.
  5. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    For a college project I had a zip disk. The school, a major land grant university, had two players that could read and record for student use.

    I still have it, along with a couple dozen floppy disks, that anything on them will never see the light of day because the drives aren't in common use.

    I think the zip held 100 MB.

    I have a couple of flash drives that are 8 gigs each. But they are the standard USB port. Once the conversion happens to micro USB, they'll go the way of the zip disk.

    And sooner rather than later they'll have gone the way of the rotary phone as people won't even know what they are.
  6. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Not only that, but count how many times a "30 for 30" piece uses newspaper clippings as background visuals.

    I'm sure there were web pages, for example, detailing all that happened in the latest episode: "Trojan War". But they always default to the printed record, as though it lands a voice of authenticity.
  7. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    I had this problem trying to find old clippings of mine while applying for jobs. There was no archive and I (stupidly) sent out all my original copies while applying for jobs I didn't get.
  8. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    There are libraries out there archiving this just like there were before the Internet.
  9. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member


    What the Web Said Yesterday
  10. Danwriter

    Danwriter New Member

    When I was covering media manufacturing (tape in various formats, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, etc. — you wouldn't believe how huge a sector that used to be) there was a segment within it dedicated to predicting and extending media unit lifespan. Trouble was, many of the accelerated aging tests weren't showing the desired results. Combine shortened media lifespans with poor handling and storage practices and all of a sudden parchment and monasteries start looking good again.
    SpeedTchr and Vombatus like this.
  11. snuffy2

    snuffy2 Member

    It is a fascinating and complex subject that bridges technology over to morality and even to religion (would you trust a digital gravestone?). Suppose your father was a good writer and passed away. Suppose many of his best writings were pushed into web sites and following a newspaper fold, a Russian hacker organization ate 'em up. What do you do? Suppose a country published hard-won laws and codes and was overthrown- to victors go spoils and history. In some ways, erasing digital existence is just a faster way of weathering gravestones. I have a Halloween skeleton attached to my address marker in the driveway. I think I'll go out and tape a flash memory card to one of the bony hands.
  12. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    Internet Archive.
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