A long, long, time ago, when Compuserve was one of the major players in internet connectivity like AOL (it dominated the field in the 1980’s), back before it had a GUI interface and was still all line-based, I belonged to a group called Church of the Bunny. This was in the early ’80’s and it was definitely bleeding edge for the times. I remember 300 baud modems that you put the handset of the phone into to use. I was lucky enough to be working with PCs so I had access to some things that were somewhat unaffordable or inaccessible to a lot of people outside the ‘geek’ fringe.
Anyway, Church of the Bunny was a community and we talked and laughed and had our inside jokes and it was an important part of my life for several years. We used files to store and pass around our Church of the Bunny manifestos and credos and whatnots and we had a newsletter that was was published and mailed to the members. We would meet up when we got out each other’s way. I still have the old newsletters and thank goodness because they are some of the only existing pieces of the Church of the Bunny I can find. Since this originally started pre-web and on Compuserve, the files pretty much went away and the few websites that were created are no longer in existence and it is all gone. In my searches I found this little blurb about The Holy War between the Church of the Gerbil and the Church of the Bunny. That’s about it. There are still several references but all the links are broken or changed.
We had a community built up and a whole “world” so to speak with a very detailed society and many, many writings and files and correspondence and articles and it is all gone. Vanished into thin air. People left Compuserve so all that archival information was gone and people created web sites on various servers and hosts that folded, or moved or just disappeared. And that was a minuscule portion of what has been lost that was on Compuserve. And there were many other hosts that folded or people moved away from, like Tripod or Geocities or any number of others.
So here’s a thought to ponder as we move into Web 2.0 and the online collaboration and social networking tools. How can we preserve all the collaboration and information and social networks as the various platforms evolve and change and come and go? I am sure we can all think of a tool we have used on-line that has been replaced by something newer and more popular. How can a migration of data be accomplished or at least, who is able to catalog and store this data?
If Web 2.0 is a new way of writing and spreading information, what role does Library 2.0 play in keeping that data intact and able to be accessed by other people? Just like libraries are the archives for books and have played a major part throughout history in preserving mankind’s writing and knowledge, what is the equivalent in the 2.0 world?
And what risk do we incur by going electronic and putting information on an electronic medium without a methodology in place to catalog and store it?
Just some thoughts on a rainy day.