Kenny's Blog

08 Feb 2015

Link Anxiety, Link Anxiety

Does anyone else have massive amounts of anxiety about links just packing up and disappearing on the internet? I mean, the internet is something that isn’t exactly set in stone - any page could pretty much change domains or just cease to exist the next day.

I suspect the guys at http://archiveteam.org/ share the same anxiety that I have, but maybe I’m just another digital pack rat:

Archive Team is a loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage. Since 2009 this variant force of nature has caught wind of shutdowns, shutoffs, mergers, and plain old deletions - and done our best to save the history before it’s lost forever. Along the way, we’ve gotten attention, resistance, press and discussion, but most importantly, we’ve gotten the message out: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.

Take for example, this massive prime example of early 2000’s sentimental value:

![Geocities Logo](/assets/geocities_logo.jpg)

Obviously, the vast majority of the websites where not of significant relevance being filled with moving gifs, but there were certainly a few gems in there. Geocities lowered the barrier to entry to maintaining a digital presence and brought websites to the masses. But there were approximately “38 million user-built pages on GeoCities before it was shut down”. Millions of webpages blinked out of existence, never to be seen again.

The point is this - if I’m writing a blog post and I reference something else on the internet, how do I know it’ll still be there in the next few years? Should I write my blogs knowing this fact?? It’s completely and most certainly possible that content would just change over time. What do I do then? Should I just save everything I reference and store it along with my blog pots so that there will be some relevance in the future?

So you can understand that anxiety - it is very easy for reference or link to simple change on the internet. You go to your grocery store expecting that it will be there the next day. Sure, it could go out of business, but you’ll probably get some advance warning. What if you rolled down to the gas station on your way to work on day and found that it was completely gone, foundation and all?

I’m interested to see if this issue will be addressed sometime in the future. Will anthropologist in the future even be able to use any information on the internet if it’s still around in the future? Or will the task of having to dig through the nearly infinite digital landfill be too much? Ironic that we’re asking these questions in the information age, isn’t it?