Kate Lindsay writes about The
internet that disappears. at Embedded. She says all
that talk about the internet being forever is
Instead: “…It’s on more of like a 10-year
cycle. It’s constantly upgrading and migrating in ways
that are incompatible with past content, leaving broken
links and error pages in its wake. In other instances, the
sites simply shutter, or become so layered over that finding
your own footprint is impossible…“.
with my experience.
I have written close to a thousand
stories for the New Zealand Herald over the years. Many of
them are lost to posterity. That’s not the whole truth, I
have copies on my hard drive. But readers won’t see them.
It’s worse at other sites I’ve written for.
Although, it can be uneven. I sometimes stumble across
stories I wrote 40 years ago before the internet was even a
And there are examples like this published at the
Sydney Morning Herald 14 years ago: Keeping
in synch. That link may not last much long. As an aside,
I wrote this when I had been back living and working in New
Zealand for four years. The SMH kept my column going for
ages after I move to Auckland.
Some of the disappearing
internet is deliberate. I’ve done this myself.
last year I culled some out of date stories on this site.
Not because there was anything wrong with them, they were
about topics that are no longer relevant, about technologies
or products that have gone to the great recycle bin in the
sky. Who cares today about Evernote’s
plan to reduce its free service and push users to paid
Again the original copy sites in my laptop’s
storage and in my cloud back-ups, but it’s not available for
the world to marvel at.
In hindsight I wish I had never
culled the material. It’s not on a par with destroying or
rewriting history, but it is a crime against
The other way this affects me is with link
rot. That’s when I link to a story elsewhere from this
site only for the link to vanish. About once a month I check
for broken links. There are always some. A few more linked
stories have disappeared.
I’m guilty of this myself. There
are links elsewhere online to the stories I’ve
There’s a lot of advice from search engine
optimisation types for publishers, in a modest way I’m the
publisher of this site, to cull old material. Apparently it
detracts from the more up to date material. I’ve no idea if
this is true, but it could explain why so much vanishes
without a trace.
When the internet disappears was first
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