Fears of Link Death   Leave a comment

Back on Vox, I used a service called ClipMarks. It was a handy little thing. If I found an interesting article, I could activate a browser plug in, and highlight a few key passages of text. This would then generate a blog post on my blog, which I could add my commentary around. It was a very easy way to call attention to an article and offering my own perspective on it. Punditry made simple!

As happens with Web 2.0 things, it was a great idea with a limited revue model. They have since been bought out by a similar service, Clipboard. Clipboard works in a very similar fashion to ClipMarks, except that it uses a Java-based applet rather than a browser extension–a big win, as it increases it’s cross-platform nature. However, there are two issues. The most immediate one for me is that it requires use of the iframe tag to embed a clip. This is a problem for WordPress.com users, as it does not support that tag (there is a WordPress plug-in for blogs hosted elsewhere). I’ve created a template to work around that for future posts–not nearly as clean and easy, but it’s a pure HTML solution, so it will be compatible.

The larger problem, however, is I’m seeing some subtle signs of “link death.” Because the ClipMark servers are not exactly the same, clips I did back on Vox (and earlier here) are illegible due to the lose of a CSS. You can’t go back to my earlier posts as easily. I’m not sure if anyone is even going back that far in my writings, but it definitely creates a hole.

More broadly, it makes me worry about other content on my blog. While I’m concerned around articles I link to, it will likely be isolated to one or two posts. However, some of the services I leverage would have a huge impact. Most of the photos I post are linked over from Flickr. While that may be on the “too big to fail” side of the equation, and has, in my opinion, a better revenue model, if it folded, almost every post I have with pictures would suddenly have broken link images. I recently started including more pictures I have taken with Instagram, linking over directly rather than porting them to Flickr. This is a site I have greater concerns about, should it either close or its new owner, Facebook, decide to kill support for that.

Truthfully, this is an issue for anyone who has a blog and is not 100% hosting themselves (or paying someone to host everything). Should one of the services you use fold, you will have both of these issues. First, there is the immediate destruction of your workflow. More worrisome is the impact on archives. For a random blog such as mine, this is less of a concern–how many people are really going back to my archives?* However, this can have a larger impact for commercial or academic sites. It is already an issue for some historians: as the Internet and web services become increasingly primary documents of history, the effect of hosting providers closing is causing this legacy to be lost.

I’m afraid I have no true solution. Most of my photos are kept on my home system, so I’ll always have those backups. However, I confess I’m not as good about backing up the actual posts. Doing so would at least ensure that my writings (as insignificant as they may be) would be available should they be useful.

*I’m actually surprised by how many.

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Posted 2012-10-18 by Mr. Guilt in computers, Internet, IT Opinion, rant

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