Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Digital Ghosts: When A Blog Gets Its Wings

Ever wonder about digital ghosts? I'm not necessarily talking about for people per se but rather the remains left behind of no-longer-updated sites, such as this one.

Blogs and other regularly updated sites are now numbering in the innumerable thanks not only to the explosion of the internet but also to the availability of free tools that enable anyone to have a website. In fact, the slightly more professional blogs have their own, independently-hosted URLs, as evident by the lack of "" in the name (for example).

However, as is the nature of the beast, much content eventually proves to be fleeting. People stop blogging, some wampeters die while new ones are born. Old sites die an otherwise non-momentous death while new sites begin their journey. In their death throes, the old sites have a choice: disappear (remove access to or delete the content and salt the earth), stay (leave everything as is with a final 'goodbye' post) or leave a monument (leave only one post, often a 'goodbye' post).

Thus are digital ghosts born.

The vast majority of the time, you will not run across a digital ghost. The site is antiquated and likely irrelevant to modern concerns. It probably won't be one of the top results of a Google or Yahoo search. Links to the site will fade as the referrers discover that the site is dead or as the referrers themselves die out. Without pointers to the site, access becomes moot since no one will find it.

But, in some cases, the site remains.

I don't know the cycle of a digital ghost. I don't know at what point the host removes access or archives the data. I don't know if or when Blogger purges itself of dead content. What I do know is that these sites are out there, standing as testaments to times now-forgotten and people now unheard.

This fascinates me.

Perhaps at another time I will further explore this topic. Something about it piques my curiosity. Maybe an archive of links to the (otherwise) forgotten? I shall have to ponder.