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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Graveyards of the Internet

I was chatting online, as one does, and I wanted to make an argument, not by recitation but by reference to somewhere I'd argued it before, as one does, and so I Googled, as one does, my own blog, where said fascinating and fun and learning-rich argument -- as far as I could recall -- had taken place, once upon a time, in the comments of an entry.

In this particular case, the argument was about the aphorism: The Answer to Fermi's Paradox is Wittgenstein's Lion. It took place in 2002, with Jed Hartman and Dan Percival and Lori Ann White and Tempest and so on, and I believe Ted Chiang may have shown up at some point, and anyway I recalled it as a really great discussion and so I went to the blog entry where it happened, which is here.

And here is the sad thing.

My blog was not a blog yet then -- you can tell by the rambly, multi-topical style of that entry: it was still an online journal. And it wasn't on Movable Type, or any blogging system; it was hand-rolled, hand-FTP'd HTML. And for a comments section, I used the Speculations Rumor Mill.

But the Rumor Mill is no more.

This is a kind of existential shock. The internet is not forever. Half the links in that online-journal entry no longer work. We are not building for the ages, here; we are running along one of those summer-blockbuster-fantasy-movie stone bridges which disintegrates just behind us as we go.

Anyway I have salvaged, with the help of the Internet Wayback Machine, some dribs and drabs of what was once my author topic on the Rumor Mill, when the Rumor Mill was the crucible of my cohort of spec fic writers. Most of it is lost to history. I stitched it all into one big file, with major lacunae indicated, taking some liberties with the Speculations format.

Part of the discussion I was looking for is interspersed there in #9740-9769, but that was just the opening salvo, really.

Posted by benrosen at February 16, 2011 11:57 PM | Up to blog

Yeah, it can be a shock to hit all the links on someone's blogroll--maybeyour own--and see how many blogs don't exist anymore. Not just blogs, either. I've followed Google to a lot of links that weren't there anymore. It should be obvious that non-physical sites that run on personal enthusiasms and unsteady servers can disappear in an instant. We keep forgetting, though.

Posted by: Ben Jones at February 17, 2011 01:15 AM

I rather took matters to an extreme with my Unknown Composers Page. When people wanted me to link to their own pages devoted to unknown composers, I usually said, "no thank you, but if you let me I'll put your information, with all attributions to you intact, on a subpage on my own site." That way the information would always be there as long as my page continued. Kind of like the aphorism, "Put all your eggs in one basket -- and watch that basket!"

Posted by: Jim Moskowitz at February 17, 2011 05:45 AM
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