] ] "Every time we checked, some were gone and others had
] ] moved," said Dellavalle, who is on the faculty at the
] ] University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "We
] ] thought, 'This is an interesting phenomenon itself. We
] ] should look at this.' "
] This is a problem indeed. I imagine Tom, at least, would have
] some opinions on building the web into a great, big,
] persistent trust/reputation network. Whats the answer?
Its both a blessing and a pox.
On the one hand, the web is very much the human knowledge system. Often people who are maintaining parts of it don't respect that, and aren't economically incented to respect it. People delete pages and change their urls. Companies and domains go in and out of existence. Companies take content and put it up behind subscription barriers. George Bush Sr. asks Time Magazine to delete an editorial he wrote...
Dead links are a constant problem on MemeStreams. Dynamic links are even worse. We have some strategies to combat these problems in the future.
On the other hand, the human memory is imperfect for good reason. People forget because if we remembered everything perfectly people would be constantly held accountable for things that they did years and years ago when they were very different people. People forgive and forget because people learn and mature.
I fear we are heading for a world that is the worst of both. The information that really matters, the stuff that is well researched and important, may be the most ephemeral. It will be locked up behind pay sites because good content is worth money. It's url will change because important documents are maintained by dynamic organizations. It will be removed if needed because powerful people will have the ability to clean up their pasts. On the other hand, the information that is most destructive will be archived for ever. Your personal opinions expressed on mailing lists and usenet never go away. Your credit report never gets cleared, nor your criminal record. Your old website will be sucked into the Internet Wayback machine and you won't be in a position to tell them to take it down. Your best hope for a future will be that no one will care enough about you to consider your past.
Unfortunately, the only thing that I can see standing in the way of all of this is conciousness. Conciousness on the part of the people who maintain important documents to make those documents available to the people who need them. Conciousness on the part of all of us to allow people to escape their pasts. Social maturity.
This is the sort of thing that the social movements of the future will be made of.
RE: On the Web, Research Work Proves Ephemeral (washingtonpost.com)