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

Jack Haverty <> Sat, 25 May 2013 02:59 UTC

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Date: Fri, 24 May 2013 19:59:12 -0700
From: Jack Haverty <>
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Subject: Re: [Nethistory] Collecting the history of networking, a possible methodology
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On 05/23/2013 01:17 PM, Brian E Carpenter wrote:
> 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.
I agree that the most urgent need is one or more methods for capturing 
the history before it fades and changes beyond recognition.   As one of 
the people who lived through the early networking years of the 70s and 
80s, I've been pretty disappointed when I've read some of the "history 
of the Internet" books, which often seem to be recounting the history of 
some other Internet from the one I was involved with.

There's been a lot of historical "testimony" over the last few years on 
this mailing list.  But, like other old mailing lists, it may or may not 
survive.   I'm certain that a lot of interesting history was embodied in 
the old mailing lists like header-people, but doesn't survive even three 
decades later.

Perhaps some corporate or government sponsor could be intrigued to serve 
simply as a long-term repository?   Smithsonian?  Google?

The other immediate task of urgency is to simply define a framework for 
capturing such informal items as email discussions, or old out-of-print 
documents, so that the nature of the content -- the metadata --  is 
retained.   Are statements eyewitness accounts "I was at the meeting and 
XXX...", or hearsay "XXX told me that..." or analytic conclusion "I 
examined 3 years of emails and concluded that ....", or simply 
speculation "XXX happened just before YYY so XXX was the reason that YYY 
decided to..." or maybe even revisionist work "Everyone knows that XXX...".

This would enormously help some future historians trying to piece 
together what actually happened from all of the opinions and variants of 
reality that will undoubtedly emerge.

For example, I recently did some garage archaeology and unearthed my 
notebooks from the late 70s and early 80s with all my notes from various 
meetings of TCP, IP, ICCB/IAB, and other meetings of the early working 
groups.  If I scan them before the ink blurs beyond readability, where 
should I FTP the files...?

/Jack Haverty