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Posted
10 December 2007 @ 11pm

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Make it Last

Dave Winer and Robert Scoble are asking (from Paris) how we can make the stuff we write for the web last – a question Dave formulated after the way too early passing of Marc Orchant yesterday.

It is also a question dear to my heart. When not writing here, I normally work with texts that are between 500 and 1500 years old. The chance that those texts will be around in another 500 years is pretty good. The chance that this blog, or Dave’s, or Scoble’s, or anything else we write today will still be around in even 10 years is relatively small.

Both Dave and Robert are proposing what is basically another technical solution – give lot of money to Google or Amazon to keep our data in perpetuity. From Scoble’s post:

I’d love for there to be an Amazon S3 or a Microsoft or Google service that we could pay for to keep our stuff around for 100 years. It’d have to be a company like that because not many companies would have a chance to stick around that long.

I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. If history shows one thing, it is that companies don’t live forever.

So what to do? I guess I am biased to the written word, but printing out the text you have written and binding it up, storing it in a safe place, is maybe the best solution. It would also be cheaper. I think we are biased towards a high-tech solution, but maybe in this case, a low tech approach might work better (though paper itself can be a pretty high-tech product!).

Yes, the site design and interactivity would be gone, but what is the chance of any of that technology actually still being available in 100 years? 500 years? 1000 years?

Librarians and archivists have wrestled with these questions for years. The National Archives are working hard on these questions and have some recommendations and developed some standards , but so far, the answers aren’t very satisfactory yet.

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