August 05, 2010
Where Do Old Blogs Go to Die?
Posted by Christine Hurt

From time to time, someone will ask me what I think the benefits of blogging are for me.  My first answer is "My blog is my form file."  So, when a student comes into my office and asks for note ideas, or I'm preparing a course lecture on poison pills, or a new colleague comes by and asks about a particular doctrine, I'm pretty good at remembering that I (or Gordon, or Lisa, etc.) blogged on that once.  Then, I find it on the blog, and there are my thoughts, with links, etc.  (In transactional practice, one's form file is where you keep all your great agreements so you can cannibalize them later.)

But what if are old posts disappeared?  This is something I never thought about until this morning when I participated in an academic research survey about bloggers' perceptions about digital preservation.  I was asked a lot of questions that just stumped me.  Do I archive my blog?  Um, I don't know.  Gordon, do I?  Who do I think has the responsibility for this?  Me?  Typepad?  Google?  (I'm pretty sure it's not Google.)  Did I ever have a different blog?  Yes.  Did I delete it?  I don't remember.  So, now I have one more thing to be neurotic about.  Thanks.

Last week, the NYT Magazine ran a cover story by law professor Jeffrey Rosen on the perils of not being able to erase information on the Internet:  will you ever be able to outrun the pictures from the 8th grade banquet?  But there's also a reverse problem:  some of us rely on the internet to retain copies of information for us.  What I went to search my form file one day, and I found that Typepad had deleted everything over five years old?  This was recently a topic of interest to those who upload photos to a service like Shutterfly, Snapfish or Kodak Gallery when Kodak announced it would require minimum purchases in order not to delete older photos.  Many users realized they had no backup for the photos they uploaded to these services and could only download in low res or purchase pricey archive CDs to preserve their photos.  (Kodak later changed its plans.)

Before Gordon and I joined forces to create the Glom, I had started a blog in 2004 called Biz Fems Speak, featuring a lot of other female corporate law professors that just didn't get off the ground.  I never really thought about it until today, but I can't find it anywhere.  I stopped paying the hosting fee, so I guess it just disappeared.  I didn't expect Typepad or Google or anyone to archive it, so I'm not upset, just sort of surprised.

Anyway, I guess I better ask Gordon about this before I wake up someday to find my form file has been tossed!

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