Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Web Curation Ain’t Easy

Once in a while, I get a whim to visit one of my old blogs.

In case you’re blind and can’t read what’s in the column to the left under the “My Other Blogs” rubric, here you go:

Yes, I have to tell myself. There were times, heady times mind you, when I actually had the time to do this kind of thing. And by “this kind of thing” I mean blog about a party book from the 1930s and a treasury of humor that was ancient when I found it used at the thrift store.

Sometimes I cringe at what I read. But most of the time, it’s not the writing – it’s the extras. Mainly the YouTube videos that are now vast blanks that link up to the big ol’ empty. A reminder that the Internet, no matter how ubiquitous it is, is not permanent.
The Internet is the largest collection of temporary information the world has ever assembled. And unless you personally download or copy or hoard whatever it is you link to, there’s a good chance it’ll be gone after a few years, leaving sad little broken error messages when your descendants get online to see what the hell gramps was up to back in the day.

This post, for example, doesn’t feel particularly old – it was published April 18, 2010. But those of you familiar with the Internet know where I’m going. Because as far as the Internet goes, this is ancient history. I don’t even remember what this clip was, nor do I remember what the YouTube Flash API was, nor even if I knew what it was then. I just know the video is dead, lost to the ethers.

Scarily enough, I have links to stuff I did on the Internet – and it’s still there simply because it was so basic – back in the late 1990s. I may as well brag that I was there when the Lascaux cave drawings were made, if you know what I mean.

But even when it is all of your crap, curating the web ain’t easy.

I like, once in a while, to peruse the junk James Lileks collects and displays. But so many of his sites are loops now, promising much but delivering only a little. For example: This link promises a swim through 40 pages of old radio logos. But just count how many you get through before you’re back where you started and with nowhere else to go.

And Lileks is even more ancient to the Internet than I am. And maybe he’s written an introduction meant to stand the test of time while the rest of the stuff goes up in 2017. That’s fine. But it should, perhaps, be explained, so grumps like me don’t go on grumping about it.

So I have two options:

  1. Go through each entry and update the videos or links as best I can, this time preserving them in amber so they don’t get lost again.
  2. Leaving things as they are because, hey, it’s only a few crappy blogs.

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