Have you ever thought about what happens to old websites? If a site owner doesn't keep paying to host a site, that site is deleted. But, there is a problem with deleting a bunch of websites too. The Internet is a big part of our history now, and getting rid of all traces of that history might be a really bad idea.
‘Technology Review' recently conducted a study of lost Internet sites. The company found that Internet data is lost at nearly 11% per year. That's a lot of lost data – and some researchers at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. are trying to find a way to put it all back together.
Researchers Work: Piecing the Internet Together
The aforementioned researchers have found a way to put deleted websites back together. The two researchers are going through sites, documents, and even Tweets to try and put texts back as they were. Why? Because these researchers feel that the lost data is important data, especially when it pertains to wars or other historical conflicts.
So far, the researchers have found their method to be effective in most ways. As far as the accuracy goes, most texts can be placed back the way they were without really compromising intended language or thoughts. The process does appear to be time consuming, though, and that means that it will take a very long time before many of the deleted sites and tweets are completely back together again.
Researchers Work: Is the Internet Important?
Just how important are those lost pages of the Internet? What about lost Tweets? In many cases, they are more important than you may think. Just contemplate for a moment this fact: we hardly write anything down on paper anymore. What does that mean? Aside from some books (and even those are disappearing), any knowledge stemming from current events of first-hand happenings of those events has been wiped out.
This means that we won't really have a past to document. If the past is disappearing, how can we look back? See the problem? But, it's going to take a lot more than two researchers working at a snail's pace to bring back all of those lost thoughts. It's going to take a lot of people that care about this subject all at once, but that's not likely to happen.
Researchers Work: What You Can Do
Really, there's not much you can do unless you want to pay to keep an inactive site running. Some hosting company owners might see merit in doing just that, but most won't. Perhaps an archive of deleted sites can be created? Any other ideas? Or, is this a completely useless project?
Let us know what your thoughts on this topic are below – the Internet might be the only proof we have that we ever existed, and that's disappearing.