Wednesday, June 28, 2023

frailty, thy name is url is shutting down, with its total run being almost exactly two decades. (Doc Searls final post on the platform says 'At the time I was told something like "Hey, Harvard has been around since 1636, so your blog will last a long time here."', but the total is around 6% of Harvard's total lifespan so far.)

I don't have any particular connection to Harvard's blog endeavor, but us long-time online geeks often feel a twinge at such times. There used to be a feeling that URLs could - and should - be forever, or as web godfather Tim Berners-Lee put it, "Cool URIs don't change"... but when I stumble over any old list of links I may have assembled, it's inevitably an absolute ghost town.

In abstract theory the unlimited perfect copies of the digital universe should enable virtual immortality in that URI-ish sense; in more nuanced theory, the cost in terms of dollars and institutional attention mean there are precious few guards against entropy, and a website is far less likely to be long lived than a print book (ideally on good acid free paper) And in practice, too often it's "well, I hope the Internet Archive Wayback Machine spiders it well".

(Some of these links come from David Winer's Scripting News... I feel like I should have been reading this blog for much longer. But it's a frustrating and weird read, like it's hard to pinpoint him on a scale of cynicism vs optimism. Or maybe it's just nothing but jaded and I'm too polyanna to see it.)

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