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From: James Weinheimer <weinheimer.jim.l-8a+P9i1ojmF8zQARNC3f2A <at> public.gmane.org>
Subject: Raiders of the Lost Web
Newsgroups: gmane.education.libraries.autocat
Date: Friday 16th October 2015 12:50:41 UTC (over 3 years ago)
Apologies for cross-posting.

I suggest this disturbing article from the Atlantic, about the 
disappearance from the web of an article that was a finalist for a 
Pulitzer Prize as recently as 2007. 

In short, the article that disappeared was published by the now-defunct 
Rocky Mountain News. It was published in print but they updated it 
extensively for the newspaper's website, in fact making an entire 
separate interactive interface for it. When the paper went out of 
business the next year, it sent its paper archive to the Denver Public 
Library, but the website was (apparently) just shut down. The story 
about the extensive, online article (34 parts) is enlightening, but one 
part about recreating the site struck me:

"...most of the work involved combing through old code and adapting it 
for a today’s web. In a pre-iPhone 2007, “The Crossing” had been 
designed as a desktop experience. It also relied heavily on Flash, 
once-ubiquitous software that is now all but dead. “My role was fixing 
all of the parts of the website that had broken due to changes in web 
standards and a change of host,” said Sawyer, now a junior studying 
electrical engineering and computer science. “The coolest part of the 
website was the extra content associated with the stories... The problem 
with the website is that all of this content was accessible to the user 
via Flash.”"

This struck me about how fast things are changing: "pre-iPhone" is now 
considered a type of "era" in terms of information and computing, and 
that Flash is all but dead (on the web, Flash was one of the major ways 
to add animation and video but is being phased out, especially with 
browsers on mobile devices).

All this is true, and all since 2007. Just 8 years ago, it was a 
different era! The first iPhone came out in 2007 and Google recently 
announced that there were more searches on mobile than on desktop 

I think even younger people would be amazed at that. (Actually, Flash on 
the web has been dying for awhile and I think I would have been 
concerned using it for important purposes even in 2007)

In my experience, it is tricky to mention archiving with web developers. 
I remember once I mentioned archiving at an institution where I was a 
consultant, and the immediate answer was: we don't archive. That's not 
our job.

I replied: You have the only copy in the world. You control the URL. You 
are the archive--nobody else can be. You can decide to be an archive 
that throws everything away after it reaches a certain age--and there 
are archives that work that way, but nobody can do it but you because 
you control everything. If 25 years from now, people see a reference to 
something on your website that was published today, should those people 
be able to access it?

I mentioned that maybe it didn't necessarily have to work seamlessly but 
people who want to access a page that has been taken down (archived), 
should find out what they must do to access the page. If nothing else, 
just make sure the information itself, not necessarily the bells and 
whistles with javascripts, flash, java, etc. but all the information 
itself, is in the Internet Archive and retrievable. Then, you can hope 
for the best, but they had to do something.

Web developers often don't think in those terms. That is a librarian 
idea. I wonder how many articles such as the one described in the 
Atlantic article really are lost forever? The pictures and videos of 
cats and babies can disappear, but other sites are more important.

I say this, but at the same time, I wonder about my own blog site, 
http://blog.jweinheimer.net. My blog
was originally on Blogger at 
but I changed to Wordpress for 
some reason I have forgotten, tried to transfer everything, and lost 
some of it. A lot of my blog is in the Internet Archive, but you have to 
search under both URLs. In the IA, it only goes back to 2010 but on my 
current site, it goes back to the beginning in 2007.

I just noticed my first post where all I did was mention that I was 
starting a blog. 

That post has gotten 63 thumbs up and 61 thumbs down.

Well, you can't please everybody! At least I'm ahead of the game--for 
the moment!

(The Atlantic article was also discussed at 

James Weinheimer [email protected]
First Thus http://blog.jweinheimer.net
First Thus Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/FirstThus
Personal Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/james.weinheimer.35
Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JamesWeinheimer
Cooperative Cataloging Rules 
Cataloging Matters Podcasts 
The Library Herald http://libnews.jweinheimer.net/

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