Re: [Nethistory] Collecting the history of networking, a possible methodology

Brian E Carpenter <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com> Thu, 23 May 2013 20:58 UTC

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Date: Fri, 24 May 2013 08:17:04 +1200
From: Brian E Carpenter <brian.e.carpenter@gmail.com>
Organization: University of Auckland
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To: Joe Abley <jabley@hopcount.ca>
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Cc: Scott Brim <swb@internet2.edu>, Elizabeth Feinler <feinler@earthlink.net>, nethistory@ietf.org
Subject: Re: [Nethistory] Collecting the history of networking, a possible methodology
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Joe,

...
> This to me seemed like a good approach to Internet history: the anarchic commons free-edit with no pretension of journalistic integrity; the resulting pile of clues provides a basis for actual research.

There's a lot to what you say, but there is one aspect that's quite worrying
in informal crowdsourcing of the material: long-term retention.

Fact: stuff that you thought was nicely available on the Web turns out to
unavailable five years later, except perhaps via the wayback machine.

Example: CERN has recently been searching for a copy of the original
first web page ever.

Example: some of the "archival" sources I used for my own recent book
turned out to have vanished when I did a final pre-publication check
of their URLs.

I think it is essential to have an organised method of securing copies
of material and putting them somewhere that has a high probability
of long-term survival. Crowdsourcing is a *great* method of getting the
material, but a lousy method of collecting and preserving it.

My conclusion is that we *do* need an organised team of curators.

     Brian