Links and the Persistance of Memories

Doc Searls riffing off of Dave Winer’s post about the history of podcasts here…

Doc Searls Weblog · Why durable links matter: “We can find these historic details because links have at least a provisional permanence to them. They are, literally, paths to locations. Thanks to those, we can document the history we make, and learn from it as well.”

As usual, Searls says some incredibly important things (and gives some great links such as Anil Dash’s The Web We Lost) in a small space.

However, as a middle school teacher I constantly try to reinforce the idea of not just “portfolio spaces” (each of our middle schoolers has a blog that they get to design, set up, create etc) and why links on blogs and personal spaces are so important to the health of the web. It’s a difficult concept for anyone to understand. Why worry about links to things when we have Google for information, Facebook for social, Instagram for pictures and Spotify/YouTube for music?

Doc points out the best reason possible… permanence. The “HT” part of HTML and HTTP are important signals as to how and why the web exists. To be able to look back and learn or reflect on information that we create as we encounter this new digital landscape is so important.

For example, I didn’t know Allen Stern personally but he was a rather important figure when I started to get involved in blogging and what has become the social web. His blog CenterNetworks was a constant source of both information and traffic for my own marketing blog (CostPerNews) at the time. I was saddened to learn of his death late last night and went on a trip down memory lane to see what I could find from my own linking to Allen. Sadly, most of it has eroded by my own actions over time. I’ve started blogs and either sold them or abandoned them. I had to rely on the wonderful WayBackMachine. However, I wish I still had that content that I produced by linking to his work or thinking on what he thought up first.

Instead, I’ve posted in walled gardens that cease to exist or are inaccessible to the outside web. I’m more guilty than anyone for relying on services like Twitter or Facebook to deliver content when I should be posting info, ideas, pictures etc on this space and then letting those services aggregate as needed.

So, learn from my mistakes.

Create your own blog. Live on that blog and let other services slurp your content in as you intend.

Create a real and lasting digital footprint.

Leave a legacy so that your kids’ kids can read your portfolio or your blog just as they can read the paper versions (if you please).

Create a healthier web.

R.I.P. Allen.

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