Websites change, go away, and are taken down. In general, we understand that the Web is ephemeral and we’re okay with encountering the occasional 404. We can tell ourselves, “Hey, don’t worry about it. There are at least 542 million other cat pictures out there. I’ll find another one.” Sometimes though, you are linking to something important and it’s a huge bummer to lose the content at the other end of the link. Like when you’re reading a Supreme Court opinion and every other link you click on is dead.
The problem of missing linked content, or reference rot, is solvable though and we’ve taken a stab at it. Our solution is Perma.cc.
At Perma.cc, any author (you!) can input a URL for archiving. When you submit the URL to Perma.cc, Perma.cc will, in realtime, download the content at that URL and pass back to you a new URL (a “Perma.cc link”). You can then insert the new link into your scholarly paper, blog entry, or Supreme Court opinion. For example, if you’re referencing the Dole Kemp ’96 campaign site, you’ll give Perma.cc, dolekemp96.org, and Perma.cc will return http://perma.cc/0M9BDKrtCL6 to you for insertion into your publication.
Perma.cc is a big effort and we knew we’d be in over our heads if we tried to go it alone. So, we found some friends — 30 or so amazing partners that are helping us build the product and host the archived sites.
Libraries are ideal partners for Perma.cc. They are uniquely situated to battle reference rot — they’re trusted sources, they’re good at archiving, and they think on a long timescale.
This effort has been getting some coverage lately. Get started with the New York Times piece and give Jonathan Zittrain’s Marketplace Tech interview a listen.
As with all of the Lab’s work, our code is open and we’d love to have your help. So, mosey on over to GitHub, fork the repo, fix and enhance, and send us pull requests. Thank you.
This March, Sidsel Bech-Petersen a Library Transformer at Aarhus Public Libraries and I have proposed a session at South By Southwest Interactive. It’s called Library Machines, and essentially, it’s a discussion/workshop to explore new ideas and directions for libraries. It will be the spiritual sibling of last year’s Libraries: the Ultimate Playground.
During the Library Machines session, we’ll all go through a quick, “mad libs” style design exercise, and use that as a jumping off point for a larger discussion through the rest of the session.
1) If you’re going to be at SXSW, join us! this will be a discussion and making session, not a presentation
2) If all goes according to plan, outside this session we should be facilitating a bunch of library “innovation”-y fun stuff so reach out if you’re interested in helping! (jgoldenson AT law.harvard.edu)
Give it a thumbs up, a tweet and if inspired, make an Library Machine in the comments!
Abandoned Walmart is Now America’s Largest Library via reddit.com
– David Weinberger
The Hole in Our Collective Memory: How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish
“Publishers are simply not publishing copyrighted titles unless they are very recent.” – Matt Phillips
Educational Leadership:Technology-Rich Learning:Our Brains Extended
Curricula for the networked age – David Weinberger
Little libraries go a long way in building community | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
– David Weinberger
Here’s how Amazon self-destructs – Salon.com
– David Weinberger
Do Things that Don’t Scale
“one sort of initial tactic that usually doesn’t work: the Big Launch. I occasionally meet founders who seem to believe startups are projectiles rather than powered aircraft, and that they’ll make it big if and only if they’re launched with sufficient ini – Matt Phillips
Libraries and makerspaces join up in DC, Chicago – Boing Boing
– David Weinberger
Every Library and Museum in America, Mapped
More public libraries than McDonald’s – Annie
face to gif
face to gif is a simple webapp that lets you record yourself and gives you an infinitely looping animated gif – Matt Phillips
Watch the world’s longest domino chain made of books
Seattle Public Library kicks off summer reading – Annie
Public Library: An American Commons | Robert Dawson Photography
Tell-all telephone | Data Protection | Digital | ZEIT ONLINE
Coyle’s InFormation: Rich snippets
Using schema.org to enable page snippets with bib info – David Weinberger
The “Bookless” Library | The American Conservative
– David Weinberger
On Wednesday and Thursday I went to the second LODLAM (linked open data for libraries, archives, and museums) unconference, in Montreal. I’d attended the first one in San Francisco two years ago, and this one was almost as exciting — “almost” because the first one had more of a new car smell to it. This is a sign of progress and by no means is a complaint. It’s a great conference.
But, because it was an unconference with up to eight simultaneous sessions, there was no possibility of any single human being getting a full overview. Instead, here are some overall impressions based upon my particular path through the event.
* Serious progress is being made. E.g., Cornell announced it will be switching to a full LOD library implementation in the Fall. There are lots of great projects and initiatives already underway.
* Some very competent tools have been developed for converting to LOD and for managing LOD implementations. The development of tools is obviously crucial.
* There isn’t obvious agreement about the standard ways of doing most things. There’s innovation, re-invention, and lots of lively discussion.
*Some of the most interesting and controversial discussions were about whether libraries are being too library-centric and not web-centric enough. I find this hugely complex and don’t pretend to understand all the issues. (Also, I find myself — perhaps unreasonably — flashing back to the Standards Wars in the late 1980s.) Anyway, the argument crystallized to some degree around BIBFRAME, the Library of Congress’ initiative to replace and surpass MARC. The criticism raised in a couple of sessions was that Bibframe (I find the all caps to be too shouty) represents how libraries think about data, and not how the Web thinks, so that if Bibframe gets the bib data right for libraries, Web apps may have trouble making sense of it. For example, Bibframe is creating its own vocabulary for talking about properties that other Web standards already have names for. The argument is that if you want Bibframe to make bib data widely available, it should use those other vocabularies (or, more precisely, namespaces). Kevin Ford, who leads the Bibframe initiative, responds that you can always map other vocabs onto Bibframe’s, and while Richard Wallis of OCLC is enthusiastic about the very webby Schema.org vocabulary for bib data, he believes that Bibframe definitely has a place in the ecosystem. Corey Harper and Debra Riley-Huff, on the other hand, gave strong voice to the cultural differences. (If you want to delve into the mapping question, explore the argument about whether Bibframe’s annotation framework maps to Open Annotation.)
I should add that although there were some strong disagreements about this at LODLAM, the participants seem to be genuinely respectful.
* LOD remains really really hard. It is not a natural way of thinking about things. Of course, neither are old-fashioned database schemas, but schemas map better to a familiar forms-based view of the world: you fill in a form and you get a record. Linked data doesn’t even think in terms of records. Even with the new generation of tools, linked data is hard.
* LOD is the future for library, archive, and museum data.
Here’s a list of brief video interviews I did at LODLAM: