Couple of thoughts worth calling out from the Bradlands memorial thread on MetaTalk:
Previously if one was a writer or artist or scholar or otherwise historically/culturally significant, one would give one’s writings & ‘collection’ to a university library. What do we do with our websites & blogs past the time we can pay for them?
How can we know now what might be significant for study 100, 200, 500, 1200 years from now? How do we archive bytes?
Some folks are printing out their blogs to custom ordered books, but this is not necessarily the best solution, as what will the children or grandchildren of our friends and families do with those books? Will they end up at flea markets along with 78rpm acetate records? But maybe that is good, the randomness of the find.
By choosing to engage in the frontier online space, we have chosen to some degree to toss the long term to the wind. The suggestion of the Library of Congress, or other institutions that function as a cultural respository, may be a good bet for the long run in terms of keeping an archive of text|image|ephemera, as after 2 recessions, I don’t trust the market to keep a reliable archive.
If we can now register our copyright with the Library of Congress or the Copyright Libraries (such as Trinity, Oxford, etc), and we can get an ISBN or periodical number for our blogs, how do we start to archive the actual posts and images to a repository.
Do we lobby our congress|political critters to set aside resources for blogs that are periodicals to be archived [or] as Matthowie suggest do we donate to an institution such as the Archive.org foundation and make sure that it can function as a cultural archival NGO?
joeclark writes that “the earliest bloggers are old enough to die”, and the knock-on is that the earliest blogs are old enough to die with their creators, and not through graceful retirement. Reaching back to Brad and Rebecca and Derek doing Fray and Leslie doing Smug and so many others, they were all a kind of conversation that I followed from the periphery, and which mattered way more than the corporate webmonkeying I was doing in my spare time, because it was about what the web might be good for, if you cared about it enough.
Conversations are transient (though their products ought not to be) and social memory has its own big role to play, so I’m not a stickler for completeness, but it was always a writing and building both in the moment and for posterity, especially at that point when Blogger made it easy to keep the new stuff up front and preserve the archives. It’s just that there wasn’t quite the sense of what to do when posterity came around, and that’s what we face today, along with an apparent powerlessness to stop their vanishing.
As the New Year rolled in, Tom was calling blogs “the vinyl of social media”, and though I know he meant it with a smile, it reminds me now that vinyl isn’t just an old medium: it’s a repository of so much that never made it to digital.
I hadn’t visited Brad’s stuff regularly in years, though I passed by though the occasional link, and in nostalgic moments. It was good to see it still there, a prompt for those warm memories of someone at the heart of that weird new blogging thing. So, one last thought: if you were around ten years ago, maybe pay a visit to those places you used you cross off your daily list, just to see if they’re still around, and if they are, glance through what you’ve missed and say hello.
Lots of interesting fodder towards the bottom of that thread for webloggers of a certain age…