On the Lost Forgotten Past

Research is a melancholy experience.

Often you find what you seek, but it is the nature of the new world, the new mental space we share in this 'blogosphere' to be littered with houses half built.

For I post today, shall I post tomorrow?

Blogs have narrow focuses, and human lives are complex many storied things. We drift in and out of our interests throughout our lives and blogs that have too narrow a focus don't get updated when our focus changes. You see a blog that hasn't posted in a year, their blogroll filled with similarly failed blogs, all the hip popular blogs of the day having fallen by the wayside.

Also, here in America we are in the death throes of an empire. This isn't fear-mongering, America as a culture is having to adapt and change to a change in our infrastructure as we come to terms with the end of our political and national dominance and return to being a member on the world stage.

This type of change can be distracting, and cause a bit of a delay in updating your blog.

For now these sites remain, but I'm concerned - will the thought and value in them one day disappear? How can it be preserved?

Is there some way to comb through the blogs and weed out all the entitlement ("My blog isn't popular enough, and someone else's is so I'm going to quit."), negativity ("So and so's blog is filled with slander against very important historical figures - how dare they denigrate something that happened where they weren't.") and navel gazing ("I have such a hard time picking a game, and it's really hard to find players. ") and take the core articles and preserve them for prosperity?

What if the Rod of Lordly Might disappears? What if Sickly Purple Death Ray goes the way of the dead?

What if Kellri never updates again, and the documents disappear?

We've made strides and have many tools that help us find useful tools and rules that didn't exist before. There's the OSR search and the Links to Wisdom to help us organize what's out there.

But what about sites that are left for dead? What will happen to them if during some pogrom they all disappear? Or projects headed by just one person like megadungeon.net that languish forgotten once the original impetus has left for their existence.

I bemoan the loss of the past, and fear a future that has lost that connection.

I am open to suggestions.

14 comments:

  1. I don't have a suggestion, but I do have an observation that struck me as I was reading your post. This process of creation and loss has always existed; except now it is easier to find the abandoned works with the Internet. Think of all the brilliant creations that remain bound on paper in some dusty corner.

    I think it has to be accepted that information will be lost. Hopefully the good ideas will be passed on from person to person so that in the future it is posted again.

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  2. Before I finally understood what Links to Wisdom was supposed to do I had coded up a script that would copy a blogspot blog post to an archive wiki. It's a proof of concept that never got more attention.

    The idea was that I didn't just want to remember a link to a blog, I wanted to have a public backup of great blog posts. On a wiki, the blog posts would be editable, peer reviewed, and all sorts of good stuff.

    Unfortunately the copyright situation (and our cultural expectations with respect to authorship) ends up being a major stumbling block.

    I just tried it using your blog post and it sort-of works. It would need more work, but it would seem to me that the technology is there. The cultural change is not, I think.

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  3. Evernote - The Wayback Machine - General solutions for a general problem, they don't solve the sifting of the chaff from the wheat but then that has always required thought.

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    1. The Wayback Machine is not a general solution though because it does not crawl sites that opt out using robots.txt. It also does not have a good search interface.

      I'm not familiar with Evernote, but a quick perusal of the company web site makes it look like it is bound to a specific and proprietary cloud storage system (not a good design for preservation and conservation).

      I prefer recursive wget myself, but I realize this is not a very user-friendly tool for all people.

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    2. There are of course numerous alternatives, because this is a problem that's existed since before http was even a protocol.

      The point being, this isn't a issue specific to OSR or even gaming. Digital 'bit rot' hits everything and there are already solutions out there for the individual to avail themselves of to alleviate the problem.

      It boils down to two things, was what was being shared important enough to the author to make it archivable and was it important enough to the reader to archive it.

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  4. I think bloggers put too much pressure on themselves. Too many think that they have to come up with elaborate posts that are ground breaking and trend setting. So when they can't post what they think the masses want to read, they give up.

    I reject the notion that there's some standard that needs to be met when blogging. I use my blog these days for short posts focused on asking the blogosphere for advice or opinions, in an effort to educate myself with help from my peers in the hobby. I also use my blog to share in tales of gaming experiences, good or ill.

    So, I think we need to cultivate the knowledge that it's alright to post something short and sweet, to keep the thoughts and ideas flowing. Every blog doesn't have to be a Grognardia.

    To sum things up: F the Joesky Tax, write what you want! ;-)

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  5. By the way, nice image reference to one of my favorite poems from my college years as an English major!

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  6. Well, the original impulse behind the OSR Conservation Process website was exactly that, but it's totally not taking off. I'm trying to get a better design done (the current one is very 90s) but I wonder if I'm trying a wrong approach.

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    1. Well, my documents are not on there because of the license.

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    2. Likewise for the same reason, it's the whole irrevocable forever thing--and ability to modify at will--that concerns me.

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    3. Yep. I understand. The "irrevocable & perpetual" part is not going to go away and, frankly, adding a way to revocate the licence would make the whole site useless. Using a bad non-digital analogy, it is like donating a book to a public library and then taking it away. Fine for me if you want to stop kids playing with the photocopier with your books, but it's exactly what the site is trying to stop.

      On the other side a couple of documents were licenced erroneously and, after being contacted by the authors, they're been flagged as not available. I'm super-keen on making sure that the whole operation is run legitimately or else I'd just use a public FTP server.

      The licence to modify is a clumsy attempt to cover digital transformation and distribution on different formats. I don't know how to phrase it better, but I removed it (and of course the backend knows about which documents are submitted with the new "non-modify" licence). It does freak authors out a bit, and it's a totally legitimate feeling.

      -C, what's your problem with the licence, exactly?

      CK, I think we had a conversation a while ago about it and if I remember correctly your main problem was the revocability. I'm totally willing to discuss other terms, I want to help making material available. :)

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    4. Thanks P. I should add that I support the project overall. My main concern is that I have bits and pieces mixed in my free stuff that are being used in the projects that will be sold by the Hydra Coop, so I just need to be careful about it. Maybe I should pull out those parts and upload it as a separate file?

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    5. That would be great, but I understand it's highly unlikely as it would take a lot of faffing around. :)

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  7. Thanks for the shout out regarding the OSR search engine. The more sites I add, the better tool it becomes. It has already helped me immeasurably in research on rules variants and searching for community resources.

    If you're generating OSR content, check it out and make sure you're indexed.

    http://osrsearch.blogspot.com/

    List of indexed sites:

    http://osrsearch.blogspot.com/p/sites-indexed.html

    Request that your site be added here:

    http://osrsearch.blogspot.com/2011/10/sources.html

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