Evaporation

This was a sample data set from 1996 through mid-2019, but maybe the most shocking number is the 2018 one: after just a year, one in every sixteen links from the Times’ website to an external source had stopped working. The Times already has an attribution problem; this just makes it worse. The researchers point out that URLs within U.S. Supreme Court opinions fare even worse, with about half of links not working as originally intended.

~ Nick Heer from, https://pxlnv.com/linklog/rotting-hallucination/

I’m not picking on the Times nor the Supreme Court, link rot is everywhere. Heer does a nice job of laying out what’s really going on; it’s not just that the links are ceasing to work, but also that the actual contents of digital stuff is changing. (And that’s all in addition to problems with data corruption and degradation.) However, his article is really about highlighting some of the neat things people are doing to preserve things. It’s worth clicking through just for the anecdote about how “Nookd” curiously appears in one edition of War and Peace.

And on the other hand, we’re all painfully aware that our lives are becoming more public and we’re losing our privacy. If you put it anywhere on the Internet, we can generalize and assume it’s eventually going to become public. In some cases, it’d be exactly what we want for things to rot— or maybe it’d be better to say:

In some cases, it’d be exactly what we want for things on the Internet to evaporate.

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