From free web sites biting the dust to the rise of the deleters the web is one precarious pile of links.

My lonely ongoing struggle has been preserving the webs I’m responsible for, which could be a full time job if it paid anything. One of the more shameful, thanks for creating all this web content so we could get bought and now we will trash it, was wikispaces.

There was an earlier free web-based siki site I was found of, PB Wiki named from it’s intent was “making a wiki is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich”.

This was one I had totally forgotten until I got an email:

We noticed that you haven’t used your workspace named: New Learning Technologies Buffet for over 11 months.


As you may have heard, we reclaim workspaces that have fallen into disuse (PBworks Spring Cleaning).


Reclaiming these idle workspaces frees up thousands of potentially useful URLs for people who will actually put them to use. We’re planning to reclaim your workspace in 30 days.


If you want to keep your workspace, click here. If you’re not currently logged into your PBworks account, you’ll be asked to log in. You’ll know that your workspace has been removed from the deletion list once the warning message disappears.


If you’re truly no longer using your workspace, simply do nothing, and in 30 days, we’ll delete the unused workspace and reclaim its URL.


Thanks,
The PBworks Team

Actually it was more like 11 years since I touched that wiki! Something about the tone irked me- “if you don’t value your stuff we are going to reclaim it for someone who might appreciate it more”. But hey, I did the one click to preserve the wiki. I love my old webs.

Not that I am using it (don’t tell them).

This was a typical kind of (cue the quaint 8 bit music) Web 2.0 thing one did in the mid 2000s. It was a workshop I co-presented with a colleague at Maricopa, for some Library staff at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Even back then I was into metaphors, this one was rife with food ones for the New Learning Technologies Buffet – it might be a cheesy nostalgic trip back for some, and more likely a yawner for most of the people who were born after then.

Cover of a Wiki-based workshop, title reads "Sample, Taste, and Savor Some New Technologies
 

 

A workshop for Maricopa Community College library staff, January 13, 2005 at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Tom Foster (Chandler-Gilbert Community College) and Alan Levine (MCLI)"

And yes, you will see photos of food as metaphors, all of them attributed to where they were found in flickr (all but one were still there).

The background stuff included:

and the “meat” of it was these HOT topics

The not so funny part is seeing that 90% of the external links to articles, tools, resources are dead links. The valuable part of the then new wiki concept was letting participants create their own pages. Even if they did not know what to say, look they were claiming a domain!

Allio's page says "You Have Entered MY Domain And I don't know what to do with it!"

At least PBWorks is not just clearcutting old wikis like Wikispaces did. But if you don’t claim your old wiki, they will reclaim it back. For what it’s worth, maybe just my own archiving of what the 2005 web was like. Like a garden


Featured Image: A picyrl public domain image of Rubber Reclamation “Rubber reclamation. Scrap tires mobilized for Victory. Millions of discarded casings cover more than 100 acres at one Midwest recovery plant. Systematic piling and sectional arrangement reduce fire hazard. Special processes will separate metal from the tires and tube bodies. The reclaimed material will be used to manufacture thousands of essential mechanical rubber products. Firestone”

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. This is definitely something we are seeing schools recon with now as they find the overhead of Running WordPress Multisite installs with tens of thousands of blogs that are essentially abandoned, or a Domain of One’s own server with hundreds of cPanel accounts of graduated users. There’s always a desire to archive it somehow (well maybe not always, but like most things if we had a solution they would likely use it). Keeping things running in full form is an expensive proposition for something that has a cost attached to it both in a financial and labor sense.

    Perhaps Archive.org is the answer but I suspect it’s the URL you would value. Sitesucker is obviously another way at it and I’ve even been able to walk schools through how to use that to archive a domain and keep it online in archived form at the same URL (or with redirects to an archived space). Labor intensive, but some room in that workflow for possible future scripting with wget or similar. I wish libraries were thinking harder about this kind of stuff, so many are perfectly happy to support digital projects today but few thinking of what it looks like to preserve them. I felt like we would be further along in 2019 on that front.

    1. It’s a fair bit of work reclaiming at an individual level and I can only guess how it multiplies at an organizational or business one. I certainly don’t expect everything free to be preserved forever, and to be honest, the approach from PBWorks was sound- “if you want this stuff then act on it.” It was more about the idea of reclaiming working the other way, something I know you are helping people face, what to do with stuff that appears to be unwanted?

      Part of the bind is the one way engineering of the link. If the link is broken, the only thing you get back is “not found.” There’s no undoing that. About the best way now that works a portion of the time is having the Wayback machine extension that offers an archive link when that happens. Wish it was rolled into browsers. Then it would not matter where an archive sat. But those are dreams.

      Maybe it’s not all that important. More likely, the importance is rather widely unevenly distributed. I do like being reminded even just seeing the word “reclaim” in the service you provide.

      Also, interestingly, Sitesucker failed on pbworks! The clock just spun. Maybe I am rusty at using it.

      1. Yeah the URL as the basis of everything is problematic not only for this but in world where we only “rent” our domain names from global registries and governments can take them down, costs can be increased to be a real burden, etc. I’d love for more movement on some alternative to the way the web works today on that front (an auto-wayback fallback would be amazing, though I find wayback archives are sometimes hit or miss too). And yeah I got a kick out of the interesting use of the verb “reclaim” as the removal of content instead of restoration.

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