Creative Web Destruction: Sites Go Away

from the remember-that dept

As we await the official shutdown of Geocities at the end of the month, Ivor Tossell is reminding everyone that today’s internet hotspot — Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. — may be completely gone in a decade’s time. And, while it’s good that sites come and go as the next big thing comes along, it does raise questions for those who are relying on these sites as some sort of archive of a life lived online. It’s a good reminder of the importance of either being able to back up certain information — or control it directly yourself.

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Companies: facebook, myspace, twitter, yahoo

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Comments on “Creative Web Destruction: Sites Go Away”

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Sarah Black (profile) says:

I wonder who in their adult life, still keeps all the reports and homework assignments from elementary school…

Sometimes items of today may seem like your entire world, but 10 years later, those same items are just a small piece of who you are today, if even that.

I am reminded of Al Bundy’s line about his high school QB days and… does it really matter much today?

James says:

Re: Re:

I do for one, for several reasons. First and foremost its a throwback to time when I was young, but ironically enough, I’ve found old work I’ve done, be it poetry, math problems, I had problems solving, computer code I was writing, etc. And have made it a point of finishing up, tidying up, or just expounding on work I’ve done.

Granted, it may serve a historical purpose and may not actually have any real-world value, but its a record of the good and bad that one has done and if nothing else should serve as a source of pride (or lol rue).

Anonymous Coward says:


The online life on facebook or myspace is the archive of so many peoples real lives. It is where connections are recorded, phone numbers kept, pictures shared with those who were there, birthdays planned, and breakups noted. It’s a funhouse mirror through which people can present themselves as they are, as they want to be, or as they aren’t at all. Records, aspirations, bad decisions; all recorded, broadcast, and talked about in one place. The little black book. Facebook is just a tool to record your real life. Just a tool. Kinda like you Robert.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Xoom? Remember Xoom? Come on guys, it was XOOM!

Quite candidly speaking, NBC may be a lot *LOT* better off if they worked something out with Liberty Media or with Malone.

A Zucker/Ergen would be a better combination would be better than Zucker/Roberts. But as I look over a few 10K and 10qs, in a relatively cursory fashion, (there are a lot of them) my gut says a Zucker/Malone has two thumbs up over any Zucker/Roberts combination.

Naval Patel (profile) says:

Modern vs. Traditional

The big picture comes down to: How are mergers, acquisitions, and failures going to affect our data?

Our “data” isn’t just composed of old reports, notes, and MP3s. For most, the most important part of their digital life is their pictures. In addition, blogs are the new journal entries (with a more public take on it)…

So if tomorrow Gmail, Flickr, Twitter, or GoDaddy were to fail – permanently, how would users cope? …

I think it’s going to come down to a need for legislation to mandate data retention – or at least users will need to demand it for a certain period before their data gets erased.

Sarah Black (profile) says:

Re: Modern vs. Traditional

“their data” ???

That is just it. Dont most sites have a clause in their TOS that says whatever data you put on to their site, is their property to do with whatever they want to do with it?

Unless that data is copyrighted material, and then the site has the right to just delete it on or before the copyright holder’s request to do so.

Naval Patel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Modern vs. Traditional

Whether they do or don’t, a Terms of Service agreement is a contract and issues of detrimental reliance and good faith come into play as well.

Even if a company owns data I upload to its servers, it should be aware that one its users would rely on the company retaining that data for a reasonable period to that individual’s detriment.

Also, I find it hard to believe that a court is likely to allow companies to shut down without some sort of reasonable notice to the users of their services/products.

The First Tech Bubble didn’t result in the finding of a reasonable practice regarding customer notice and data retention; perhaps the second one will.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sudo make me a sammich

Okay guys, I am staying at a friends house and just sudo’ed myself to make a sammich. Nothing particularly interesting outside the obviously required grill, rabbit food, and (types of cheeses = types of meats, in this case being three.)

All was going good, but damn, I have to tell you something about the knife set. Cutco Knives, man. They are the shit. I’ve never been able to cut through a tomato or a sammich like that. I’m feeling a little inadequate here after looking online to get for myself.

I think I am going to have to marry her for her knives. Is there anything wrong with that? I guess I really want a capable woman who knows how to use these things and honestly, I am a little confused…

Brian says:

Need exists for a central archive

I hate to rip off someone else’s words, but I’ll do it anyway… Robert Cringely wrote about this subject in a blog post a few months ago, and the need for a common “archive API”. His angle was not only about accessing “your” data (yeah, it’s not REALLY yours, but “data you helped create”), but also about destroying your data in the event that the real owner goes under. Interesting read:

To quote part of his post: “What we need is the digital equivalent of one of those envelopes characters sometimes leave in books and movies — an envelope inevitably labeled “to be opened in the event of my death.”

Participating organizations would store compressed and encrypted versions of their data with the Internet Archive, where they would be held in an inactive state but updated frequently. Then, in the event of that outfit’s death, the digital envelope would be opened, revealing a decryption key and enough application code to get a vanilla version of the original net app up and running. It would, as archives are intended to do, preserve the final state of the application as well as its final data.”

Anonymous Coward says:

I care about my facebook info being recorded for archive purposes about as much as I care about my phone conversation with my friend this morning being recorded for archive purposes: Zero. It’s transient information, not important historical documents.

Now, if the recording is being done by the feds or a corporation, I guess my level of caring is very high! But if my Facebook profile were deleted today, I wouldn’t shed too many tears. I’d lose all the friend links I had set up. Oh no!

zellamayzao says:

Re: Re:

I feel the same way. When i first set up my myspace account it was one of the most important things for me to keep up on. And after 4 years I dont really care anymore. Its still active but its been months since I logged in. I really just log in to keep it active. Its a means to keep up with lost friends from school I went to but Ive got their phone numbers I could call. If I checked my myspace tomorrow and saw it had been deleted I wouldnt care much at all either.

Im sure thats the thought process for a lot of people who use/used those social services. Its the coolest thing since sliced white bread when they set it up, but as the years roll on and they grow, they realize its not as important/relevant as it was when they were younger and had to worry about every little piece of “info” in everyone of their friends lives.

timrice (profile) says:

Dont Let Your Internet Life Disappear...

Sites come and go. Facebook may be around for years to come, but then again… Data is only as good as their server infrastructure. Most cheap or free web services have built their data infrastructure on inexpensive disk arrays, which have serious vulnerabilities. Their RAID array may be protected, but it is very possible for the entire array to get corrupted during upgrades, etc. and data loss will occur.

Another vulnerability is security, another is physical damage. Three months ago, the data center in Seattle had a small electrical fire but the data center was shutdown for 24 hours and customers could not access their files at all during that time. Google was down a couple of weeks ago for two or three hours one night – yes it’s 2AM but I want my data!!

The smart thing to do is not worry about these things, by having all of your web files automatically backed up to a second or third location an inexpensive service like FilesAnywhere – these sites let you USE your online backed up files for other purposes also. So you get the peace of mind from having your files backed up – from Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, GeoCities, Google, or any other web service – plus you can use those files anytime from a network drive mapping, or by sharing links to the entire folder of files.

Of course, most people are careful and have a copy of their files at least on a local USB drive right? Hello! What happens when that certain someone at your house “accidentally” deletes your entire root folder on your USB drive, and by chance, your favorite web service closed last week where you had second copies of your files? This is when you will be glad to have automated backups setup to copy everything offsite to FilesAnywhere or a secure FTP site.

The idea is to have several secure copies, in different locations, to fully protect your digital life. If you already have an offsite backup provider, it’s still the safest approach to have more than one. Even the offsite backup companies have lifespans. Look at Xdrive, Yahoo Briefcase, HP’s online backup service – all have closed in the last year and without much warning.

Protect your data!! It will thank you later.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Anyone who was heavily involved with online music awhile back should remember the original

It was the way unsigned artists got visibility. There were charts and some artists made their names nationally by being on the top of the charts.

And then came to the realization that it couldn’t make any money and almost overnight said it was closing down. People had invested a fair amount of time on the site and then it was gone.

I’ve been online heavily since 1993. Everything comes and goes sooner or later. That’s why I’m skeptical about the predictions for Twitter. It, too, will be replaced by something else.

another mike (profile) says:


This. I found so many local acts through that site, musicians I’d go see perform so I could support them directly instead of some label. was simply the best site ever for discovering new acts, searching local gigs, previewing the tunes so I’d know whether I’d like to keep up with that artist or not.

I owned more music with than I have since it closed down. I guess I should really say I “owned” the music, because once the site was gone, so were the songs.

Ben (profile) says:

Or people concerned about things like this could start their own website and link to it where necessary. Also there is this fabulous thing called the archives.

But who cares, Geocities was so useless when looking for anything, I am not sad to see it go. Forever any site that linked to it for some information or other got the inevitable, Geocities specific,page not found errors, pissed me off.

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