If you look at the history of my blogging you’ll see intermittent activity in between long bouts of silence. If you were able to look under the hood you would have seen multiple rounds of blog software migrations and hosting provider changes. I’ve already lost count of how many. Probably at least 6 different software tools and the same number of providers.
Putting something on the Internet is challenging. Sure many sites make it easy to put something up in a matter of minutes. But I’m talking about the difficulty in keeping it there. Some estimates have said the average life of a webpage is only 100 days. If you wrote a blog piece five years ago that is no longer available on the Internet - well, did you ever really write it?
This seems like a modern day problem. Not that many years ago we had pictures and letters from our lives. They degrade in quality over time but they exist. I’ve lost digital pictures to file servers that did not have adequate backups. The physical pictures degrade gracefully in a way to make the memories even better.
So it’s easy to think that things are getting worse with digital media. But I would say that this problem, the problem of keeping writings or images available and usable, has been a problem forever. Because if you take a longer timeline you’ll see that everything degrades away.
Take a visit to an art museum and you’ll see what I mean. There are some pieces of art that are stunning. The talent of the artist is clear and it’s easy to see why someone spent the time and money to preserve the work for hundreds of years so that we could view it today. But in other cases, pottery is one that comes to mind, the pieces are not high quality. In fact, an average person could replicate the piece in any pottery class. Yet here it is, well presented in a national art museum for thousands to view. It’s there, not because it is the best example of work during that period, because it is the only piece that survived. It was good enough to get a wealthy person motivated into preserving it.
In some cases, large Internet companies will keep your content without any effort on your part. Tweet about your kale and spinach meal and Twitter will keep it around for as long as they are in business. The problem changes. Now it is about discoverability. How will future people be able to see your tweet amongst the thousands (millions? nay, trillions) of others? Again, if your tweet exists but noone can find it, did you ever really write it?
Having said all of this I find myself, once again, migrating my blog to new blogging software. I hope it will stick this time. We’ll see. In the meantime you should know that I had spinach, broccoli and cottage cheese for breakfast. Please store that info in a safe place for future generations.