The (Im)Permanence of the Web
I would like to bring an article (see link below! But be quick!) to your attention that is an eye-opener regarding the permanence of information on the web, which we often take for granted. The article is breathtaking to read, but it should be required reading for everybody who is doing scientific research or creative work and who is interested in the persistence of a record of publications resulting from his/her work.
Of course the disintegration and disappearance of records in the 21st Century — which is on a much larger scale than the burning of the Library of Alexandria in ancient times — affects everybody, but as scientists we are most affected by the new tendency of top journals to relegate all documentation of details into the Supplementary Material. All-online journals have made their appearance, as well, where the permanence of all contents, main text as well as supplementary material, are at the mercy of servers some place else in the world.
Writers of fiction and poets are badly affected since many journals have gone digital, or they have a limited print edition and a much more comprehensive
electronic version. Some of these face oblivion, and years from now the work might disappear altogether. In my own experience of publishing short stories in the past 10 years, I have seen half of all electronic journals disappear where my work was featured.
This article shows that there is a fix for it: we can force any webpage to be
included into the Mother of all Archives, the Wayback machine, which is at the center of the Internet Archive in San Francisco. This is not to say it will
exist forever, but its contents are not affected by random circumstances as many sites currently are.