Genealogists typically think of sources of information that last forever. For instance, we have been taught to always cite our sources. That is, to tell where we found the information. The primary reason is so that other genealogists who follow behind us can verify the information, should they wish to do so. That works well for census records and other paper documentation that will probably be preserved in some format for centuries. However, what about citations that point to sources that will probably disappear within 100 days?
Writing in the Library of Congress' web site, Nicholas Taylor, Information Technology Specialist for the Repository Development Group, provides some interesting statistics:
What is the average lifespan of webpage? Predictably, estimates vary and vary over time. A 1997 special report in Scientific American claimed 44 days. A subsequent 2001 academic study in IEEE Computer suggested 75 days. More recently, in 2003, a Washington Post article indicated that the number was 100 days.
While there appear to be overall fewer estimates of webpage longevity floating around than, say, the amount of data stored in the Library of Congress, we can at least feel more assured that they’ve all come from someone who should know: Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.
(For an explanation of Brewster Kahle's credentials, see my interview with him at http://goo.gl/s7pOg.)
Nicholas Taylor then goes on to describe the problems in a bit of detail, although he doesn't offer any ready-made solutions. You can read the interesting article at http://goo.gl/vciml.
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