The epistemic implications of platform proliferation and platform death

From The Curse of the Monsters of Educational Technology, by Audrey Watters, loc 623:

The average lifespan of a website, according to the Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle is 44 days—and again, much like the estimates about the amount of data we’re producing, there really aren’t any reliable measures here (it’s actually quite difficult to measure). That is, the average length of time from when a web page is created and when the URL is no longer accessible is about a month and a half. Research conducted by Google pegged the amount of time that certain malware-creating websites stay online is less than two hours, and certainly this short duration along with the vast number of sites spun up for these nefarious purposes skews any sort of “average.” Geocities lasted fifteen years; Myspace lasted about six before it was redesigned as an entertainment site; Posterous lasted five. But no matter the exact lifespan of a website, we know, in general, it’s pretty short. According to a 2013 study, half of the links cited in US Supreme Court decisions –and this is certainly the sort of thing we’d want to preserve and learn from for centuries to come –are already dead.

From loc 638:

With our move to digital information technologies, we are entrusting our knowledge and our memories—our data, our stories, our status updates, our photos, our history—to third-party platforms, to technologies companies that might not last until 2020 let alone preserve our data in perpetuity or ensure that it’s available and accessible to scholars of the future. We are depending—mostly unthinkingly, I fear—on these platforms to preserve and to not erase, but they are not obligated to do so. The Terms of Service decree that if your “memory” is found to be objectionable or salable, for example, they can deal with it as they deem fit.

From loc 608-623:

If you burn down a Library of Alexandria full of paper scrolls, you destroy knowledge. If you set fire to a bunch stone tablets, you further preserve the lettering. Archeologists have uncovered tablets that are thousands and thousands of years old. Meanwhile, I can no longer access the data I stored on floppy disks twenty years ago. My MacBook Air doesn’t read CD-ROMs, the media I used to store data less than a decade ago.

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