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Web Heritage Could Be Lost

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the anyone-else-remember-sean-baby dept.

United Kingdom 128

Squiff writes "The British Library warns us that 'The UK's online heritage could be lost forever if the government does not grant a "right to archive"' in the UK. Never mind the Wayback Machine, The British Library declares that 'the average life expectancy of a website was just 44 to 75 days, and suggested that at least 10% of all UK websites were either lost or replaced by new material every six months,' with the material within them being amongst the most revealing regarding the state of contemporary culture."

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128 comments

Sadness (5, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272228)

I really miss the Internet of the mid-90's...back when Netscape was king, an animated .gif was exciting, and Vivo Video [wikipedia.org] was used for streaming. I know things were much more primative then, but there was a certain charm that just isn't present on today's Internet. ::sigh::

Re:Sadness (2, Funny)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272346)

You obviously don't remember "Hamster dance". Charm, indeed!

Re:Sadness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272354)

My girlfriend certainly knows the hamsterdance now. As it is her ringtone on her phone :)

Re:Sadness (2, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272406)

it was cute! and by the way the hamster lives

http://www.hampsterdance.com/classics/originaldance.htm [hampsterdance.com]

Really? (2)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273358)

That's the original graphics, displayed in a non-original format (not covering the whole page).

But is that the original music? I don't think so. Then again, I'm just relying on my memory.

Re:Sadness (3, Funny)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272484)

You obviously don't remember "Hamster dance". Charm, indeed!

What about the Jesus dance [angelfire.com] ? Copying that onto the school's website in 1999 got me banned from using the computers for the rest of the week!

(Although, it took about 6 months for someone to notice, care and complain.)

Re:Sadness (4, Funny)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272462)

Bah. I really miss the Internet of the mid-80s, when telnet was king, a UUCP connection was exciting, and animated ASCII was used for streaming.

(waiting for a 70s guy to show up)

Re:Sadness (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272576)

That ASCII wasn't animated, your phone cradle just had a bad connection with your 300 baud modem! That may have sucked to wait for, but you could also get 15+ hours of battery life out of a couple AAs back then (on a TRS-80 at least), so not all that has happened with tech is necessarily a good thing. Not exactly powerful by today's standards, but journalists loved 'em for sending back assignments.

Re:Sadness (3, Informative)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272664)

Sadly, no, we actually did code animated ASCII by hand for display on terminals (or terminal windows). It was awful... especially at 300 baud, though even at 1200.

Re:Sadness (5, Funny)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272582)

Humbug, I really miss the Internet of the mid-70's, where line-printer keyboards were king, a computer with a monitor was exciting, and ASCII art printouts were used for decorating the office.

Re:Sadness (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272720)

where line-printer keyboards were king

Damn straight. The LA36 DECwriter [slashdot.org] rocked!

Pissed off the computer teacher by playing "startrek" for 3 hours on that terminal. Burned off most of a box of paper. But I did kill a lot of Klingons and saved the Federation many times, so it was worth it.

Re:Sadness (1)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274602)

That is worthy of a motivational poster...

"Should we warp drive now or go two sectors down and attack the Klingons"

Re:Sadness (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272632)

I really miss the 70s when college essays were hand written and talking to an actual person was exciting and you went to the theater to see animation. And thank god no one cared to archive more than a few random photos.

Re:Sadness (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273204)

I really miss the 70s when college essays were hand written...

They were, but that didn't prevent some asshole from nicking my ASCII rendering of the Mona Lisa on 11x14 inch fanfold that I had on the wall of my machine-room in 1976...

Re:Sadness (2, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272534)

The 90s were a unique time for web culture.
A consultation for us who missed the 60s, with its promiscuous sex and hippy strength LSD; you can tell your kids about dancing baby, squealing 56k modems, Usenet flame wars, and reinstalling Windows 95 with active desktop 5 times per day.

Ahh good times.

consolation (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272732)

Damn you spell checker, damn you.

Re:consolation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31273546)

A spell-checker error befitting the 90s, nice touch!

Re:Sadness (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273120)

That's all true, and it shows the internet sucked back then. I used Linux back then so no reinstalling, but really, there wasn't much information on the Web that was useful for non-scientists back then, and after seeing two websites of proud owners who wanted everyone to see their home address, telephone number and email address in the ugliest fonts and colors they could find you had enough. Luckily, Slashdot existed even in those dark times.

Re:Sadness (2, Informative)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273338)

but really, there wasn't much information on the Web that was useful for non-scientists back then

Actually, that's only partly true. Project Gutenberg had a head-start (I think from 1971) on the internet. That and lots of other material was available via UUCP and various BBS sites.

Re:Sadness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31273864)

It was really cool back then but back then it was refreshing. We repeated phrases back then, but really back then we were cool. Oh those phones back then! Back then it took 10 seconds to dial long distance back then!

Re:Sadness (1)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272564)

You are purely thinking off of the emotion known as nostalgia. Maybe it was simpler, but it was worse, less efficient, less powerful, and much much much less functional.

Re:Sadness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272858)

You are purely thinking off of the emotion known as nostalgia. Maybe it was simpler, but it was worse, less efficient, less powerful, and much much much less functional.

Still there were things about the internet in the 1990's that are worth regretting not having anymore. For instance, it was also far less commercial and widespread communication restriction or influence wasn't yet attempted by moneyed and political interests. Also, back then the malware wasn't yet used as a tool of organized crime (unless you consider spam houses organized crime) and the worst things you'd pickup by browsing or downloading would only trash your system and perhaps cause you to lose data, not allow others to steal your identity or quietly drain your bank account.

Re:Sadness (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273068)

Not entirely...far less viruses and spyware, spam wasn't as big of a deal, drive-by browser hijacking was far less common...besides, I would take a blinking marquee of text over pop-ups and banners any day.

Re:Sadness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272598)

The nostalgia back in the day was far better than your nostalgia.

Re:Sadness (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272884)

Why is everyone so worried? Just do the following:

        cvs co -r 1.1 internet

Or if that doesn't work

        cvs co -r 1.1 www

Re:Sadness (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272952)

I really miss the Internet of the mid-90's...back when Netscape was king, an animated .gif was exciting, and Vivo Video [wikipedia.org] was used for streaming. I know things were much more primative then, but there was a certain charm that just isn't present on today's Internet. ::sigh::

There was no charm, its all nostalgia (yearning for the past in an idealized form.) It happens everywhere, but I see it a lot with MMOs where people keep calling uppon the charm of the old EverQuest or the old Ultima Online, etc.

15 years from now, today's teenagers will say just what you are saying now about the days when Facebook, Tweeter, Youtube and Google were the main internet hits and cumbersome Flash plugins were required to see dynamic content.

Re:Sadness (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273118)

>>>Netscape was king, an animated .gif was exciting, and Vivo Video was used for streaming

Also it was still possible to be online with a dialup modem. Have Web developers completely-and-totally forgotten the lessons of the 90s? (Compress images using GIFwizard, don't buffer audio unless the user first clicks "load" or "play", and don't use megabyte-sized movies when a 100K animated GIF will do.)

Re:Sadness (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273176)

That's a good point...unless you disable nearly everything, I don't see how dial-up users could still even use the Internet today.

Then again, considering it is 2010, no one in the USA should still be subjected to dial-up, but that's a different conversation -_-;;

Re:Sadness (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273944)

When I'm on dialup with my laptop, I use image compression (to squash the GIFs/JPGs the developers failed to do right the first time). Also flash compression and ad blocker. And even then, if I go to a site like IMDb.com, I can expect a 5 minute download. I can't imagine trying to do straight dialup without Netscape's or Opera's web acceleration.

Developers should be trying to make their pages smaller, if not for dialup, then for people using Wireless or Cellular connections. There's simply no acceptable reason to create a page bigger than 1/4 megabyte (one minute download on dialup) (30 seconds on cellular).
.

>>> considering it is 2010, no one in the USA should still be subjected to dial-up

I agree. The Congress could fix that VERY easily by simply passing a law that the Phone Monopoly (which ever one serves you) must provide DSL to any customer that demands it, within six months time. Simple as that. Everyone would have high speed internet and it would be very cheap to implement:

- Run a fiber out to a neighborhood
- Attach a DSLAM to it
- Attach the customer(s) phone lines to the DSLAM
- Done

Re:Sadness (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274798)

"but there was a certain charm that just isn't present on today's Internet. ::sigh::"

The charm came from the fact that nerds mostly populated the early web since most people were not savvy enough to use the internet beyond it's most basic level for email, chat and games.

why? (5, Interesting)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272242)

Why in the world would anyone in the future care about a website that barely even stuck around for a month. Anything of significance will either stick around, or be archived by others who find it significant.

Also, that average seems absurdly low, are they counting in dynamically generated pages that exist only as long as they are viewed or something?

Re:why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272292)

It's "heritage," which means "whatever happened in the past, for whatever reason, we are obligated to point out and say 'we came from here,' even if only so we can say 'look how far we've come.' "

You must be one of those people who doesn't understand reconstructions of old-fashioned rooms in museum exhibits. It's an anthropological thing.

Re:why? (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272470)

Nonsense, I actually love museums and history in general. What is so great about history is the signal to noise ratio is much higher than the present. Not every single bit of information is really worth the effort to save, and if we try to then we'll just be left with an unweildly ammount of information that nobody will ever bother accessing.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272992)

Same AC you're replying to speaketh further:

From a scholarly perspective, one of the uses that people have for large numbers of 'noise' in the form of old pulps and newspapers that isn't really talked about much is cultural minutae and linguistics. This was brought up on Slashdot a few months ago when some librarians were complaining about the horrible automated tagging that Google Books uses (such as putting copyright catalogues in the 'drama' section, defaulting books to 1899 if a publishing date can't be found, picking the first date in the book as the date of publishing, et cetera). One example given at that time was that data-mining can be performed en mass on old newspapers to determine when "the United States of America" became a singular noun.

Having a collection of old webpages where 90s-era language and culture is better than having a paper copy of material from the same era because (a) no OCR errors and (b) it's generally written in casual language and not proofread to death—this is important because we've learned a whole boatload about ancient Greek phonetics by analysing spelling mistakes made by people who couldn't tell two formerly-distinct sounds apart. As a specific example, materials from the nineties are going to be particularly useful in studying the spread of computer literacy, technical slang, and the spread of chat abbreviations as they enter language. It's believed that "LOL", for example, actually dates to the early eighties—back then it was used by a handful of computer experts; today it can be found on billboards. In thirty years it might be taught in schools. That's not insignificant.

Re:why? (5, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273538)

Not every single bit of information is really worth the effort to save

That's what you might think now, but a historian of the future would probably disagree. By way of an example, it's possible to gain an insight into practices of the past by looking into details of regulations: few official records exist, for instance, detailing fraudulent practice in the food industry in 16th or 17th century England, but the fact that there are statutes specifically forbidding stuffing meat with rags to make it look "plumper" tell us a lot about common practice of the time.

History isn't just made up of dates and battles. It is made up of countless little bits, each not in itself very important, but contributing to the whole.

Re:why? (1, Troll)

kikito (971480) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273690)

Hi, I am the Historian from the Future.

I've travelled to the past to tell you that no one in my time cares about your websites.

Re:why? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273560)

Precisely. We have not preserved the random scrawling of a housewife's love letter in Venice circa December 38 A.D. Nobody cares about that junk.

We preserve the things that matter - that if we forgot them, they could degrade our society. Shopping lists and other garbage don't fit that criteria. The accumulated works of Geocities do not fit that criteria (and if it did, it would have been moved to a better place like a book, or a stone tablet for preservation).

Re:why? (2, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272300)

Why in the world would anyone in the future care about a website that barely even stuck around for a month.

      Data mining. Anything you say can and will be held against you. Especially if it was published on the internet. What, you think this is something FOR the people?

Re:why? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273058)

Anything you say can and will be held against you. Especially if it was published on the internet.

And why should the internet be somehow exempt?
If it is something illegal/incriminating, you were ill-advised to put it in a publically available place.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272304)

Why in the world would anyone in the future care about a website that barely even stuck around for a month. Anything of significance will either stick around, or be archived by others who find it significant.

Also, that average seems absurdly low, are they counting in dynamically generated pages that exist only as long as they are viewed or something?

If you forget your past, you're doomed to repeat it.

Go check out an archive from the mid-90s. Under construction sign, with the digging stick figure and roadway blocker. Repeating image on the background. Dancing hamster. Spinning green skull. Huge hitcounters. SIGN MY WEBJOURNALBOOKLOG! Webrings. Oh god. Don't forget the webrings! Webrings with broken links! BLINK tags. MIDI backgrounds. Black text on a dark background. FRAMES. ActiveX plugins. ::shudder::

Re:why? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272744)

How is that different from the typical myspace page? except that its mp3 instead of midi and horrors of flash and javascript instead of activex.

Re:why? (2, Funny)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272838)

You just found out about MySpace?

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31273334)

I thought MySpace was part of the Heritage that we are losing... At least I hope to get past that part of history... Actually can we get rid of Wikipedia too? That cancer to the integrity of our web history has been bugging me since it came out...

Re:why? (5, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272342)

Why would anybody care about Mary Chestnut [wikipedia.org] or Victor Klemperer's [wikipedia.org] diary? If someone were trying to understand something like the Barack Obama campaign or the Tea Partiers 50 years from now, and all we had were official statements and published news reports, the picture of what was actually going on in the country would be significantly warped. Wherever people gather, there needs to be a chronicle, otherwise some authority in the future is going to make some arbitrary guess about what people believed or wanted.

Re:why? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273600)

So? Nobody's going to care about Obama's election campaign 50 years from now, just like nobody cares about FDR's election campaign - other than the fact "he won" and he promised "change" from the Hoover's failed policies.

Re:why? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274588)

I suppose if you believe everyone on Earth is a moron who does stupid things and never accomplishes anything, than I guess you would naturally be drawn to the conclusion that history is basically pointless. Ford said "History is Bunk" for just this reason.

On the other hand, a lot of people like to go around claiming that FDR ran on a socialist platform -- this is important because if he actually enacted socialist policies, it would imply these were disclosed and popularly accepted by a large part of the population. You need a record of his campaign rhetoric in order to come to this conclusion. You also need the statements and popular attitudes of actual self-identified socialists, and a lot of them hated FDR for being rich corporatist...

Re:why? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273686)

otherwise some authority in the future is going to make some arbitrary guess about what people believed or wanted.

They do that anyway...

Re:why? (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274048)

Well, we don't have a comprehensive archive of medieval shopping lists either. And something like that would certainly interest some people too. (Like: How did common people eat in 1168? How wealthy was a smith in comparison to a farmer? How much of a person's income would go to food?) Being able to go a few hundred years back in time and seeing how people lived would be interesting.

However that doesn't mean that it should be a primary goal of our culture to preserve the mundane details of our lives in the most mind numbing detail. It might be interesting for future generations, sure - but we also have better things to do with our time and our money.

Re:why? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274466)

I wasn't aware that the British Museum was proposing that the their archive was to become the "primary goal of our culture."

The shopping lists of medieval farmers is very important, particularly to economists who try to build a consistent timeline of income growth and proportional spending. This has a lot of implications on modern policy... after all, if a medieval peasant spent less than 10% of his income on shelter, and a modern American spends over 30%, why is that, and maybe are we doing something wrong? Or is it just a question of density? Probably not, since the western US is far less settled than medieval England -- but then again how was population distributed? How closely did people live to cities?

Without history our decisions wander in a dark hallway.

Re:why? (1)

sakshale (598643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272344)

I was posting photos taken at events run by an organization where I was a volunteer for 16 years. I couldn't remember the name of the bands in a couple of the photos, so I went back to the web site. Only, the new management had completely deleted all the detailed band information!

It wasn't captured in the Wayback machine either.

That is why I would support an archive, but given how sites are built today, that may be difficult to do.

Re:why? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273636)

Should have dumped the information to paper. Paper has permanence, and can be stored away, and even when damaged is still readable.

*
* Or even better a stone tablet (one of those new laser printers that carve stone).

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31273828)

So.. your "solution" is to print everything out?!?!?

Yeah, let's have everybody print out every web page they visit! You don't happen to own stock in a paper or toner company would you?

How exactly would you search all of that?

Oh, you should only print out the important stuff, right? How do you know what's important enough to print out? How do you know what you might want to visit in the future?

And what about things that you don't know about? How are you supposed to print out a web page that you've never visited?

You're a fucking moron who has no idea what anyone here is talking about.

Re:why? (5, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272412)

Anything of significance will either stick around, or be archived by others who find it significant.

The problem is that you can only evaluate the historic value of something years or decades after it happened. That's why plenty of movies and early TV shows got lost or even destroyed. Even the original moon landing footage is gone. All that stuff just wasn't considered valuable enough and the self space or the reusable magnetic tape was considered more important than the data contained in them.

Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it and we seem to be doing exactly that when it comes to archiving the Internet.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272574)

Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it

Please don't throw random meaningless quotes around. We - as humans - don't learn from large scale historic events that are fairly well documented.

We repeat bad things over and over because we chose to be blind to history. Archiving 1337m4st3r2 pwn-blog will hardly make for a better world.

Re:why? (2, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272716)

history is always distorted and often fabricated, and the ramblings of millions of manipulated ignoramuses won't help the matter

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31273254)

I don't think you can get away with saying the moon landing wasn't considered valuable enough to want to hang on to. I think that specific footage being lost is more a matter of all the copies of the video that already exist and some poor management.

Re:why? (5, Insightful)

ibwolf (126465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272530)

The funny thing, what we consider junk today sometimes - mind you, only sometimes - turns out to be really interesting a few generations down the line.

Case in point, advertising leaflets from the early part of the 20th century were undoubtedly not held in high regard at the time. Today however researchers regard them as a useful source of information that was not captured in other media at the time, usually because it was something "everyone knew".

The point is that we are ill equipped today to judge what will be "valuable" tomorrow.

Re:why? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273726)

Yeah but researchers think even a small snippet of paper that says "I played with my dollie today" and buried under a log cabin is useful. They are a little bit...... strange.

I don't think we should be allowing researchers to decide what to preserve, otherwise we'd all drown under a mountain of preserved junk. I know if I saved everything I ever made, including every homework or every art class creation, I'd need at least three houses just to store it.

Re:why? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272536)

Why in the world would anyone in the future care about a website that barely even stuck around for a month.

Many of those sites are marketing tools or similar, and plenty of people are interested in old advertising posters etc.

Re:why? (1)

Tibia1 (1615959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272540)

I agree. Less intelligent content will not be missed.

However, what's stopping everyone from just saving all of their content on their computers before their site dies? Sure, I guess some sites have a lot of content, but massive hard drives are available. Am I missing something?

Re:why? (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272888)

There was a great site gabocorp.com that in early 1996 was one of the coolest flash sites ever. The site is still there but the original site sampled some Akira sound bites for buttons and stuff and the guy who created it was doing things with flash that other people hadn't even imagined at the time. It would be awesome to see that old site archived, but the wayback machine didn't keep the flash in its archive so none of the old stuff works anymore.

Re:why? (2, Interesting)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273318)

Some of the most valuable information you can gets your hands on as a historian is ephemera. Victorian household accounts books are a goldmine. Going further back, commonplace books record a treasure trove of information about what life and culture was like. It's not difficult to imagine a historian in 2200 examining early 21st century attitudes to religion by analysing ceiling cat v. basement cat.

because. (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273904)

Say what you will about the Mesopotamians, but they knew how to make a damn funny lolcat. Shame that all their backup tapes were papyrus. ;)

Anything of significance will either stick around, or be archived by others who find it significant.

Nah, you have too much faith in popular culture. Wikipedia will always, always have a complete list of Pokemon. And that's fantastic. But here's the tricky bit... if something that is significant *is* lost, how do you know that it was a) significant or b) existed in the first place. That's why it's so hard to think of an example. What we get is: "if only someone saved this information that would be really useful to me right now so I don't have to reinvent it..." You didn't know yesterday that you needed that information. Today you have a new job to do.

There's another important factor to consider. Sabotage. Websites die every month from server failure or hacking. All the common sense and backup policies in the world won't limit someone who's well funded mission is to disrupt your web presence. It might not even be you they target, if it's your data center (like say Amazon S3) all those people are hooped. Some of them were researching cures for diseases. You can't just go back to handwritten notes and catch up.

You're aware that in war, libraries and archives are destroyed early on? Best way to annihilate a culture is destroy the records of its existence. It happens today like it happened 2500 years ago. If they were successful we might not even know libraries existed 2500 years ago. Maybe 4000 years ago they were successful. We can't know.

Why should you care about 10 years ago or 1000? You don't need to be a history major to see the point:
What we are, is because of what we were. So what should we be next?

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31274442)

I'd imagine these are the people that find it significant and that’s why they are archiving it. Having read a little about this recently there are also teams working on recording government sites for preservation at the National Archive. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/web-continuity.htm

There is another team at the archive that looking at long term preservation of digital stuff http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/preservation/digital.htm and interestingly there is a team that is looking at making sure that actual day to day working information is available http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordsmanagement/digital-continuity.htm

Re:why? (1)

crispytwo (1144275) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274694)

Anything of significance will either stick around, or be archived by others who find it significant.

That is the entire point!

The UK government is not allowing 'archives' of digital media without permission... which is overly burdensome for archiving.

Way Back When (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272270)

I imagine the Wayback Machine is far better than it used to be, but historically it hasn't been that inclusive. Most of my old Quake site is still there, but other sites from the same time period are gone.

One of my favorite sites ate the time was Yello There, a parody of Blue's News that had me laughing out loud almost daily. Harriot updated the site almost daily, yet the only page out of the thousands there were that still exist is one that I'd posted on my own site ("Kneel" and I were unknowingly fans of each others' sites and eventually became good online friends and did a lot of cross-posting and collaboration).

Sadly, "Kneel" had Muscular Dystrophe and the last I heard could no longer write. I think Harriot died a few years ago, and his online work has vanished, except for that one page.

Re:Way Back When (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272334)

Quite right, my first site's front page, from December 1996, is there, but that's it, none of the other pages are archived :-(

I couldn't afford to pay the hosting charges (between jobs) and it died.

On the other hand, I'm quite glad that the majority of the geocities stuff isn't there, it was mostly awful.

Re:Way Back When (0, Offtopic)

gazbo (517111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272644)

Maybe not perfect, but it has some very important sites from yesteryear. For example: this geek favourite [archive.org] is preserved, and it would be a true tragedy if the data were lost just because the site is now down.

Most Websites Should Be Lost To The Ages (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272302)

Does the UK really want to be remembered for their craptacular websites? Not that theirs are any worse than anybody else's, but please ... most websites are like a night of bad drinking. Let's move on already and let time take care of the rest.

Re:Most Websites Should Be Lost To The Ages (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272338)

I don't think it is bad design that is in question, but content.

Re:Most Websites Should Be Lost To The Ages (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272390)

I don't think it is bad design that is in question, but content.

Duly noted. Though most content isn't much better than the sites themselves.

I wonder why they aren't trying to get Facebook, MySpace, et al, to permanently archive everything ever posted there for historical purposes ... what am I saying? They already do. Those places are like pictures documenting the nights of bad drinking ... and they're primed to be blackmail fodder 'til the end of time.

Re:Most Websites Should Be Lost To The Ages (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272628)

Does the UK really want to be remembered for their craptacular websites? [...] most websites are like a night of bad drinking.

Bad drinking is an important part of British culture, TYVM.

"Web heritage"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272348)

"Web heritage"? Are you kidding me?

The world would be a worse place than it is now if every iteration of every myspace profile or of every online store was saved somewhere. Good riddance!

67.4% of all statistics are made up.... (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272350)

And 99% of all websites are boring, useless, commercial, or self-serving. Let them die...tomorrow would be too soon.

Re:67.4% of all statistics are made up.... (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272620)

And 99% of all websites are boring, useless, commercial, or self-serving. Let them die...tomorrow would be too soon.

What's interesting to us will not necessarily be the same as what's interesting to future historians. Internet culture is problematic as it doesn't really leave a any persistent trail.

Re:67.4% of all statistics are made up.... (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273146)

Predicting which 1% will be valuable to historians of the future *is* predicting the future. And we all know how accurately people can predict the future.
-messege sent from my VR sunglasses in my flying car.

Does this matter at all (1)

cfulton (543949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272366)

Really, we didn't record some website in Britain. This will matter historically how?

Relocate (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272400)

The British Library should declare independence.

Sounds like a job for Google (2, Interesting)

Alamoth (927972) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272410)

I would imagine that Google could easily expand their caching technology to facilitate the preservation of everything everyone has to say on the internet. I can understand where the Libraries are coming from. In an effort to chronicle the growth of human culture they keep archives of literature, periodicals and most other media, so why not the internet?

On this subject... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272428)

Via the Wayback Machine, appropriately enough, James Gleick offers this [archive.org] .

Re:On this subject... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272440)

Incidentally his web site now has a portrait which is, to quote its properties 2102px × 2871px (scaled to 150px × 200px). What happened, James? You used to be cool.

Those who control... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272438)

Those who control the present control the past.
Those who control the past control the future.

History is important. Having access to history is just as important. What you consider trivial now may be important later.

Re:Those who control... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31272528)

Those who control the present can make up the past.
Those who control the past are liars.

History is irrelevant.

Re:Those who control... (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272902)

I'm sorry Mr. Coward, but you clearly lack the power to control that famous quote.

Culture is like yogurt... (2, Interesting)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272502)

"The British Library declares that 'the average life expectancy of a website was just 44 to 75 days, and suggested that at least 10% of all UK websites were either lost or replaced by new material every six months,' with the material within them being amongst the most revealing regarding the state of contemporary culture.""

Twitter and facebook. If that doesn't say what the present state of contemporary culture is, then I don't know what does?

what will the Brits panic about next? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272910)

If I see a "sky is falling" thread in slashdot, more often than not it is from a UK source.

Re:what will the Brits panic about next? (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273048)

Well Chicken Little did have a British accent... I'm just saying.

Not all of it is worth saving. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#31272998)

With such a long, rich history I'm almost surprised they'd be concerned about this. Then again, I suppose the British Library understands, better than most, the value of archiving content. That said, I'm fairly certain most things of value have been stored away somewhere. But without a doubt there's a point at which we need to cull what has little value, which in all honest, is most of what is found on the internet.

I'm reminded of these preservation societies which seem to be especially prevalent here in the northeast US which go out of their way to get every last minor structure designated as a historical landmark, often to the detriment of beneficial development projects. A couple of years ago this whole area of a city in my area was cleared out, except for this single multi-family home. I'd drive by on the highway and see this huge open field in the middle of which sat this lone dilapidated house. It turns out that some early baseball player was either born there or had grown up there for a few years and one of these groups all of a sudden got it in their heads that they needed to protect the house and force the city to restore it. No one had given a crap about it for all the years it sat there or had suggested doing anything with it until the time had come to tear it down. The fight to protect it dragged on for at least a year. All this effort to preserve an insignificant historical footnote. They finally lost, but by then it was a moot point as the city was facing so many other issues that this redevelopment project hasn't yet gone through.

Most of the internet isn't worth preserving and what has been preserved, in all kinds of media, should paint a very clear picture of the content of the internet over the years. And often what is considered historical significant is different looking back compared to people living through that time. This is especially true with pop culture. Every little thing is the most important thing in the universe until it's forgotten two weeks later.

Re:Not all of it is worth saving. (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273266)

I'm sure noone in the mid 19th century would have considered the gardening notes of some priest at a monestary in Brno would be something to hang onto.

I Don't miss the 90's (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273126)

When bold 48pt yellow text on red background flashing banners were on every website. When AOL opened the flood gates to the internet for the stupid. When spammers thought they were cool.

We have nothing better to worry about. (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273140)

Save the Internets of yore!
NPLZ. Why was this posted?

What's a webpage? (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273512)

Seriously. In the 90's, in the era where free webpages were hosted at Xoom, Angelfire and Geocities, the trend was static content (php pages for free, huh? Yeah, right), and there was a ton of webpages dedicated to a myriad of topics. People had to maintain their webpages by adding articles which were available through a series of navigational menus.

Then, everything changed. Webpages were replaced with disorganized blogs where people just complained about their lives. But some people got the right idea and began making specialized blogs about topics. Then the trend switched to news and editorials instead of static content, and wikis took the place traditional webpages used to occupy.

As of today, there are no personal webpages anymore. Everything's conglomerated in social networks, forums, wikis and specialized blogs. The era of webpages is now gone.

Just repurpose some of those cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31273706)

Point them into homes and at computer screens.

I remember those days (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273822)

99% of the sites were just pages consisting simply of long lists of hyperlinks to other pages that consisted simply of long lists of hyperlinks. Oh, and some of them were members of web rings. Yeah, that's all worth saving...

So in ten years is someone going to be raising the alarm about the potential loss of millions of blogs and tweets, and how we might forget just how many people had tasty sandwiches that day or hated their math teacher?

Nonsense! (1)

T0mBerenger (1079061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31273922)

I have been downloading the internet since the mid 90s.

We need to start dealing with this problem (1)

CoffeePlease (596791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274230)

This is fast becoming a huge issue, and not just for Britain. There are legal and permissions and privacy problems that have to be addressed or nearly all of our digital works will simply vanish, in the not too distant future. The wayback machine doesn't even begin to address the issue. Dynamic and web2.0 sites often have metadata and links that are only valid if the site is working as intended - a snapshot will not work to capture it. A lot of valuable information not available elsewhere is already lost as people stop paying for various freemium accounts or hosting fees or as companies go out of business. Sometimes that data gets saved (Netscape's javascript development site, saved by Mozilla.org, UseNet groups saved by Google) but many more times it does not. I've attempted to write up some of the issues here: Proposal: Advance Directives for our digital legacies http://thedesignspace.net/MT2archives/000743.html [thedesignspace.net]

Talk to an archaeologist or anthropologist... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31274262)

I always hated the term "pack rat." It is highly offensive to me that people consider it a negative quality to save "trivial" or "useless" things. Just think of all the people who threw their Golden Age comics in the trash because they weren't worth saving.

Whenever I migrate to a new PC, I always archive the entire HDD (minus meaningless OS and software installations) onto a folder in the new system. My friends think I'm silly to do this, but a few weeks ago I had a great time traveling down memory lane to see what I had been up to back in the early 90s.

PLATO (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31274346)

I miss PLATO [wikipedia.org] . Back in the mid-seventies, this was amazing, absolutely mind-blowing: real-time text chat, multiplayer biplane dogfights, and chess, and galactic conquest ... on a global network. Granted, the screen was monochrome (orange on black), but the resolution was better than anything around. And it was a touchscreen. Good times!

YUO FAIL IT. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31274690)

fo8med his own Documents like a hapless *BSD Join in especially very sick and its BSD machines, you should bring Our ability to Do and doing what

Need for permission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31274848)

Google doesn't ask for permission, why should the library?
This makes no sense, other than the workers are just too scared to go against the "rules" and do what should be done.

I think that a notice should be sent to the webmaster, specifying the location of the archive, with a form to fill out for take down.
But not permission. That's unnecessary.

Do you ask permission of the publisher, or of anyone for that matter, when you go to the library and read a book off the shelf?

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