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My Rant on Web Preservation (or, the lack thereof)

Slight exaggeration, but nothing makes me more upset than surfing around on old websites (and even some NEW ones!) and coming across dead links. Of course, it's only natural that things would be lost to time. We do not have- and probably never will have- every single bit of information on life in the past.

But the internet is so new. And the rate at which links decay, the rate at which big tech companies grow tired with their latest experiment- it's all so fast. The internet archive is doing a lot of heavy lifting in this landscape, but how many Yahoo! Answers pages did they miss? How many Geocities sites are lost to time? Google+ only lasted a few years and it's all gone.

And how many other niche, unique websites, not even that old, have been demolished at the drop of some random company's hat?


At the time of writing this, it's October, which means I wanted to sit down and play some classic Pokemon Creepypasta ROM hacks. One I loved as a little kid, Escape Lavender Town, is impossible to find. All of the download links are dead or broken. That's a whole game, one I looked back on fondly- and it's gone. In the age of digital media and gaming, this feels like it happens a lot- but for games like Escape Lavender Town that aren't really popular or good enough to warrant a big fanbase, there's nothing that can be done.

Websites and pages going completely offline is not inherently wrong, in my opinion. Sometimes, people want to get rid of things. That is only natural. But what pisses me off, the thing about internet preservation and what it means to me, is how little say the users really have in the keeping of their life's work.

You know how a lot of people sometimes just find old stuff from when they were kids sitting around? Old journals, drawings, that sort of thing. I'm a sentimental person, I love that shit.

With how the internet works, many people do not or will not have that luxury. Websites giving a warning before they close their doors is just a formality- they don't have to do that, and god knows some certainly won't want to. I mean, think of how much more PROFITABLE it would be to, say, make users pay to download an archive?

God, I don't know, maybe I'm cynical. It's just that there's such a wealth of information, experiences, and art that we will never recover. The internet makes it such a pain to try to revisit old sites you visited as a child even just 10 years ago, because nothing works the same as it did back then.

And that's fine- new advances in technology, Flash had security problems, etc.- Progress is good. But I still think there's some value in looking back at something from years past, in the format it was meant to be in. I feel like you shouldn't have to jump through hoops to visit a childhood favorite game site or something. I feel like the internet, as a system, is so perfect for preservation of resources and knowledge- things can be saved in a gazillion different ways, and webhosting is cheaper than ever, but none of it matters because there are like 3 companies that run the show.

It's never made more prevalent than when you try to run a Google search- there are ads everywhere, even on your own pages, without your consent. They track your every move, and somehow, SOMEHOW, with this vast and creepy information network they have going on, the things at the top of Google searches are often buggy, advertisement-filled messes that say the same few things but advertise different products every time.

What happens if, for example, Tumblr goes bankrupt? In this profit-driven system we're all forced to play a part in, tons of information and resources will be lost. Sure, active users can back up what they can- but what about that obscure blog from 10 years ago that still has incredibly useful information on your favorite game? Will the creator even notice that it's gone?

If the creator doesn't care, does it matter?

Heck, it's actually rather hypocritical of me, to put all this on a neocities site- if neocities goes down, then so do I. I have all my files backed up, sure, but I don't really have the money to webhost now as a broke student.

I wonder where I'll be, 10 years from now- will all the work I put into this website be lost to time, just as tons of webmasters before me? Will I remember enough to care?


♥ Jay(click to go back!)