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Online Preservation: The Ever Widening Gyre - Morgan Dawn Livejournal:The Here And Now
The Here And Now
Online Preservation: The Ever Widening Gyre
I've blogged about link rot and how it impacts fandom, history and wikipedia (the main one, not Fanlore). But I've been reading articles discussing how the shift to online "life" is impacting the ability of courts and legislatures to conduct business.

"More and more documents and opinions are in digital form and include hyperlinks to cited cases and other documents. And there is something on the Internet known as “link rot,” in which the source has been moved from the old address or removed entirely. “Is link rot destroying stare decisis as we know it?” asks Magnuson, wondering what happens if you can’t find the information a court relied on. “It is scary, scary stuff.”
Is a paperless, people-less court in our near future?
"Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010)".

The impact spreads to other areas: open source medical journals, human rights campaigns, genealogy research, and general reporting. And with the move to twitter and tumblr feeds the problem is growing worse,

"What’s more, we’ve moved into a world of streams, where flow is more important than stock, and where the half-life of any given piece of content has never been shorter; that’s not a world which particularly values preserving that content for perpetuity. And of course it has never been easier to simply delete vast amounts of content at a stroke". Reuters, "The Spread of Link Rot."

The problem is one that many feel needs to be addressed. This is from the founder of pinboard, the bookmarking service:
"Link rot in my own bookmarks is what first inspired me to create Pinboard, a personal archive disguised as a social bookmarking site. As I've shilled before, Pinboard is the only website that will store full page content for the kind of champagne-swilling fat cats willing to pay us a $25/year fee. But while link rot motivated me to build the site, until recently I did not have enough user data to actually quantify the problem. I was particularly curious to see whether link rot would be linear with time, or if links would turn out to have a half-life, like plutonium. Here's what I found... Links appear to die at a steady rate (they don't have a half life), and you can expect to lose about a quarter of them every seven years" Pinboard, "Remembrance of Links Past."

And on that note, WebCite, Wikipedia's main citation and linkrot prevention tool is still raising funds in order to continue operating.They set up a Facebook page here. And even more amusingly, they created their own fundraising trailer. Be kind - they're coders and geeks and not vidders nor are they PR or fundraising savants. But they've been providing this service to the world  - for free -- for over 10 years and it is a service we desperately need to continue.  You can donate here.

They recently laid out their plan: ""Our primary aim at the moment is to make the system more scalable by moving it from a hosted server environment to a cloud-based service (Amazon). This needs to be done this year as we have reached certain limits on our current environment. Moving it to a cloud-based architecture will remove any such performance and storage limits. Secondly, we have to come up with a model that allows us to finance the operations in an ongoing basis. We plan to develop a few WebCite PLUS features (such as the ability to create a user account and view/download all snapshots you have taken). For these additional PLUS features we plan to charge PLUS users, to make the operations sustainable over the long-term. In this model, the basic functionality will remain free of charge."

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