Thursday, April 09, 2009

Our ephemeral history

Today I have been occupied in revising the bibliographies in a number of papers I have written, with a view to publication, and have discovered on clicking through a number of the internet links that they no longer exist.

Since ours is a predominantly on line cultural history, that much of our archaeology has been effectively wiped out and is inaccessible now.

Of course key texts like the Institute for the Neurotypical, and Jim Sinclairs writings are still there, but I am no longer able to find Martijn Dekkers paper, which I often cite. (click on his link and see for yourself what I mean)

This is the problem with the internet, in that you can still find out of print books in libraries, but if you try and follow any internet links given in them, likely as not they are no longer there.

I have myself been a victim of this, in that I have recently lost two domain names with the demise of Lycos Europe who hosted them, and that is just a microcosm.

I recall nearly ten years ago now, reading the web sites of Amanda Baggs, Jared Blackburn, Dave Spicer, Frank Klein and others, but where are they now?

Ok I know where Amanda is, but I am referring to the original Aleis in Wonderland site, and there are many more examples.

I myself have tried to keep popular stuff which is frequently referenced stable, in that I have not moved those pages around on my original Geocities site, but anything that was on Lycos has now gone.

Wikipedia is no better. Whilst this is useful it has it's limits. There is so much that is subject to the inumerable "wiki wars" and so much which is little more than plagiarism from out of copyright encyclopedias which by definition is going to be more of historical interest than anything else.

The early history of Neurodiversity and the usage of the word has been effectively wiped out by wiki wars, the current article in wikipedia being inaccurate, uninformative and biased.

It is more than annoyance, because it really hampers the work of someone like me, who cites from the internet a lot.

This is one reason I am now submitting papers to journals, because otherwise in another ten years time, none of it will necessarily still be able to be read. This blog being an example, at some point google could change their terms of reference, and it could be gone in the proverbial puff of smoke ........

Of course the shifting landscape of the internet is not only our concern, it can be very embarrasing too: Home Office in new pornography embarrassment


abfh said...

Dekker's paper has been moved. You can find it here.

Joseph said...

Sometimes in archaeology, the originals may be lost, but copies are left behind.

One advantage of using Blogger is that the writings made on it will probably be here until the end of the internet.

bullet said...

Daft question, but have you tried looking for them via something like "Wayback Machine"?

David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) said...

"Sometimes in archaeology, the originals may be lost, but copies are left behind."

True. I read archaeology as a minor subject, and in ground-based archaeology one does indeed find copies... long after the original has been destroyed.

laurentius rex said...

I am glad that Martijns paper has merely moved, but then how is one supposed to keep up with that. I have emailed him, to suggest he puts it in a repository which is less likely to move, the Leeds University Disability Studies Archive which I would consider a good place for much of our seminal literature if ever any of our web sites get threatened.

I have maintained a presence on the web for over ten years now, and it says something for my OCD that my pages are date stamped, with the date of every revision included, as a sort of audit trail, but even I can't find my site as it was when I was a web virgin having long ago lost the files in one computer crash or another.

Quite apart from the way back people who have dropped off the radar, there are a few bloggers on the hub who are manqué Autism Diva for instance.

Aspie Bird said...

I know there is a site which has a library with exact copies of websites as they were years ago, up to 5 years or longer.

Gonna find this for you.

Thanks for your link to that film project, interesting!

Aspie Bird said...

It's the Wayback Machine:

Though, you have to fill in the original url. Have you deleted your bookmarks yet?

Aspie Bird said...

Sorry should have read bullet comment here first.

laurentius rex said...

Yes I did know about the way back site, but it is not 100% reliable as it only preserves snapshots at particular intervals and it does not preserve the links.

I went back to find a paper by Christopher Gillberg once, the text was there but the all important diagrams were missing.

I still think that there should be a specific archive of our literature somewhere, and the Leeds University Disability Studies Archive seems like as good a place as any.

Incidentally in scholarly papers I notice that most of them don't directly reference the sites we have written so much as the NT sites about us.

The closest thing to an archive we have seems to be, but that site has had many problems.

Gonzo said...

What about the Autism Wiki?
That was a joint effort, wasn't it?