If Information is Disappearing on the Web, Should You Archive Your Paid Content in Public Libraries?

A recent study published by MIT Technology Review has determined that history is vanishing on the Web — especially through social media. The study,

A recent study published by MIT Technology Review has determined that history is vanishing on the Web — especially through social media.The study, conducted by a pair of researchers from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, found that nearly 30% of links on Twitter vanished withing 2 years. That means that the world loses 0.02 per cent of its culturally significant social media material every day.The researchers do not posit as to why the links are disappearing, but Mathew Ingram at GigaOm theorizes that it’s because blogs have been abandoned or news sites have archived their content, for which they can charge access.This provides an interesting quandary for online content publishers. Clearly, there’s an advantage to charging for archived content, especially if your information has research value. And you all should be employing custom short links (learn how you can create custom URL link shorteners in this how-to article on Subscription Site Insider).But conscientious news and information publishers may also want to have their work live on posterity’s sake. And paywalled archives may not be the best way to do that.Enter Internet Archive. Founded in 1996 by “technologist” Ben Kahle, the site is collating “every morsel of news produced in the last three years by 20 different channels,” reports The New York Times. (Including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.)The act of copying all this news material is protected under a federal copyright agreement signed in 1976, and Mr. Kahle told The New York Times that the Internet Archive has no intention of competing with news outlets or being another real-time aggregator. In fact, most material is uploaded 24 hours after it is published online.The site has 2 million visitors, and stands as a sort of modern-day, virtual Library of Alexandria — a catalog of our culture and times.And while this may provide some cause for concern by publishers, I would advise you to embrace it. Just as book publishers and newspapers made their materials available through brick-and-mortar public libraries, a one-stop archive for your Web pages will make your site a “website of record.”Plus, if you’ve taken my previous advice of adding new online tools, not just new content, to acquire and retain subscribers, then customers will continue to pay for access to your site.

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