Found 1 comment on HN
jmduke · 2014-08-20 · Original thread
I've been thinking a lot the past few weeks about the preservation of art and goods in general. I think it comes from two main sources:

1. Maciej Ceglowski (`idlewords) has been talking a lot recently about link rot. Recently, he found that 25% of items pinned a mere five years ago were dead links and 17% from only three years ago were dead [^1]. That's an incredibly high rate -- and, selfishly, one I'm noticing as my bookmark folders for recipes (RIP and designs and other things is filled with more and more duds.

2. I've been reading Do Not Sell At Any Price [^2], a book about the subculture of 78rpms. These are records that are so rare and so -- for lack of a better term -- unwanted by the vast majority of the music-listening populace that the act of collecting them is less about hoarding and more about preservation. To quote one of the characters in the book (roughly from memory):

"It's a weird feeling, holding this thing in your hand and knowing that you could break the song," he said. "I snap this record in half and this song is lost forever. It's a lot of responsibility, and sometimes I think that's why I take it so seriously."

I can honestly say that, prior to reading this article, I had no idea what a ZX Spectrum was. Now, after some digging, I do -- and I still have no desire to play one, obtain one, or hold onto it in any meaningful way. (And seeing as I'm usually on the weirdly attached end of the spectrum with these kinds of things, I doubt I'm the only one.) But I'm struck by how important it is to hold onto these things, even if its in a cardboard box in a forgotten closet somewhere or a link on the Internet Archive that gets clicked once every couple decades.

I'm not positing that there will ever be a point in time that someone has the hankering to play ZX Spectrum Xtreme Chess, but I think there's inherent value in preserving this ecosystem -- something of a testament to the people who made it, the people who played it, the novelty that at one point in time there were five million living rooms with this machine in it.

The Web turned 25 this year, and it's already coming down with acute cases of memory loss. I'm hoping that by the time it hits fifty, the problem won't have gotten worse -- it will have gotten much, much better, not just with URLs but with remembering the time when people played 3D StarFighter by the Oliver Twins. [^4]

(This is a very roundabout way of saying the following: Jason, you are completely awesome for doing this, and thanks for sharing it with us.)



[^3] The nice things about IA links is you can pretty reasonably assume that they won't suffer from link rot, right?


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