The Deatchwatch page on the Archive Team website makes for depressing reading, filled as it is with an ongoing list of sites that are going to be—or have already been—shut down. There are a number of corporations that are clearly repeat offenders: Yahoo!, AOL, Microsoft. As Aaron said last year when speaking of Museums and the Web:
Whether or not they asked to be, entire communities are now assuming that those companies will not only preserve and protect the works they’ve entrusted or the comments and other metadata they’ve contributed, but also foster their growth and provide tools for connecting the threads.
These are not mandates that most businesses take up willingly, but many now find themselves being forced to embrace them because to do otherwise would be to invite a betrayal of the trust of their users, from which they might never recover.
But occasionally there is a glimmer of hope buried in the constant avalanche of shit from these deletionist third-party custodians of our collective culture. Take Google Video, for example.
Earlier this year, Google sent out emails to Google Video users telling them the service was going to be shut down and their videos deleted as of April 29th. There was an outcry from people who rightly felt that Google were betraying their stated goal
to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google backtracked:
Google Video users can rest assured that they won’t be losing any of their content and we are eliminating the April 29 deadline. We will be working to automatically migrate your Google Videos to YouTube. In the meantime, your videos hosted on Google Video will remain accessible on the web and existing links to Google Videos will remain accessible.
This gives me hope. If the BBC wish to remain true to their mission to
enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain, then they will have to abandon their plan to destroy 172 websites.
There has been a stony silence from the BBC on this issue for months now. Ian Hunter—who so proudly boasted of the planned destruction—hasn’t posted to the BBC blog since writing a follow-up “clarification” that did nothing to reassure any of us.
It could be that they’re just waiting for a nice quiet moment to carry out the demolition. Or maybe they’ve quietly decided to drop their plans. I sincerely hope that it’s the second scenario. But, just in case, I’ve begun to create my own archive of just some of the sites that are on the BBC’s death list.
By the way, if you’re interested in hearing more about the story of Archive Team, I recommend checking out these interviews and talks from Jason Scott that I’ve huffduffed.