Kevin Horne writes about the problem of impermanence on the internet, citing the same story I did a few weeks ago on the internet as “a messaging system, not a library.”
We know the content of the internet is perishable, so what do we do about it? The vision of the internet as a library—as a means of archiving and cataloging mankind’s knowledge—is a powerfully attractive vision. But it’s a vision that hasn’t been realized in the way we’ve designed the infrastructure of the web.
Creative Commons changed how average people dealt with copyright/licensing problems on the web. What I think we need is for a sort of “Conservation Commons” for the web, which would be both a principle and technical standard that hosts and platforms could adopt that pledges that content created will be permanently conserved for the future.
Conservation Commons wouldn’t just apply in this moment, but would anticipate the mergers, aquisitions, and busts that companies and hosts face—it would also bind future owners to respect the same principle. It would also include a provision to allow any library that requests access to be able to back up content after a certain time period, similar to the way that the Library of Congress archives tweets.
This is mostly a “thinking out loud” idea.