I’ve already written this blog post! Shall I cite myself, ibid infinitum?
But just to show as an example, in my previous post I was able to reference the 2018 Mural UDG Project I was part of. A few days ago that was not possible, and also on the digital chopping block was years of work on the UDG Agora project.
They were on the fast boat to Link Rot.
Both of these projects were beautifully organized and managed by the Justice Institute of British Columbia and led by Tannis Morgan — and these were easily the best projects in all senses I was ever part of.
Fortunately they allowed us to build all of our web sites (both were WordPress multisite and made use again of those S things) on a Reclaim Hosting account. This means no doing dance circles around IT departments, we could build fast and furiously, that’s what these nimble, organic projects needed.
But the projects ended. Tannis has moved on to a new role at Vancouver Community College. The dean who oversaw the project is retired. And someone at JIBC got a renewal notice for the web hosting and 2 domains, shrugged, and did not renew them. Why would they? The project was done.
It’s good to have friends running your web hosting. If I was still with CrapHost or BlueNose, they don’t know me, but Jim Groom does. He let Tannis, myself, and Brian Lamb know via DM that the sites were not being renewed.
I think theagoraonline domain and hosting at Reclaim is expiring, it automatically renewed by some snafu, so we are reimbursing the JIBC folks after getting a ticket letting us know. But, in the event there’s anything you need from there I can grab a full cPanel backup for posterity and send it along, let me know.
A backup is but those are for archivists. This is a chunk of my professional portfolio. Why should we just shrug it off and let all those links go dead? But again, Jim is a friend, and was able to transfer these two sites and domains to my web hosting account.
The financial impact for 2 domains and web hosting might be $60 clams a year. This is severe? We should just let our work go for this trivial amount? Both Tannis and Brian offered to chip in.
Nope. Not on my watch.
Tannis asked in the DMs
this whole thing has me thinking a bit more about the ephemerality of OER and whether we should care or not
But the OERs themselves are not ephemeral, it’s the people who maintain them. And with projects coming and going, staff the same, who would really think an Institution really cares about it’s projects legacy? Just snip the budget and call it done.
But we all have a stake in these “old” projects and I will do everything I can to preserve my digital cruft. I for one care. Or as Jim said much more eloquently:
You are talking to the wrong crowd about not caring about sites, that ephemerality shit is for [NAME REDACTED] I am here to save the web and all the jackasses on it 🙂
That’s our Jim, no sublety.
My ethos is if I create something, I should do everything I can to preserve it. Individuals care; but institutions do not — yes there are exceptions to this rule, but it’s because of individuals at those institutions.
This point was also made in a recent and alarming Atlantic article by Jonathan Zittrain, “The Internet Is Rotting” (tip of the blog hat to Clint Lalonde) in citing the efforts of Internet Archive / Wayback Machine founder Brewster Kahle:
It is no coincidence that a single civic-minded citizen like Brewster was the one to step up, instead of our existing institutions. In part that’s due to potential legal risks that tend to slow down or deter well-established organizations.
Brewster is superficially in that category, too, but—in the spirit of the internet and web’s inventors—is doing what he’s doing because he believes in his work’s virtue, not its financial potential.https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2021/06/the-internet-is-a-collective-hallucination/619320/
These URLs are now preserved in my house, no WayBack machine needed (yet)
And I might even go in from time to time and tend to them, like I had to update an image directory for Acumulador so the taco ratings work. Because tacos.
What are you taking care of?