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Dead medium: Internet Archival Issues Part One
From: (Bruce Sterling)
Source(s): "Archiving the Internet" by Brewster Kahle

"Bold efforts to record the entire Internet are expected to lead to new services."

"Submitted to Scientific American for March 1997 Issue."

"The early manuscripts at the Library of Alexandria were burned, much of early printing was not saved, and many early films were recycled for their silver content.

"While the Internet's World Wide Web is unprecedented in spreading the popular voice of millions that would never have been published before, no one recorded these documents and images from 1 year ago.

"The history of early materials of each medium is one of loss and eventual partial reconstruction through fragments." (((bruces remarks: This is certainly an interesting principle, if true.)))

"A group of entrepreneurs and engineers have determined to not let this happen to the early Internet.

"Even though the documents on the Internet are the easy documents to collect and archive, the average lifetime of a document is 75 days and then it is gone."

(((bruces remarks: A document lifetime of 75 days! If this figure is true, it certainly deserves repeated emphasis.)))

"While the changing nature of the Internet brings a freshness and vitality, it also creates problems for historians and users alike. A visiting professor at MIT, Carl Malamud, wanted to write a book citing some documents that were only available on the Internet's World Wide Web system, but was concerned that future readers would get a familiar error message '404 Document not found' by the time the book was published. He asked if the Internet was 'too unreliable' for scholarly citation." (((bruces remarks: Well, it hasn't been stopping us self-appointed scholars here at Dead Media Project, but yes, it's a major issue all right.)))

"Where libraries serve this role for books and periodicals that are no longer sold or easily accessible, no such equivalent yet exists for digital information. With the rise of the importance of digital information to the running of our society and culture, accompanied by the drop in costs for digital storage and access, these new digital libraries will soon take shape."