I might need a WordPress plugin than converts all links to run them through the Wayback Machine. Mansy days it feels like 90% of my blogged links are dead.
— Alan Levine (@cogdog) September 15, 2021
I do believe my career as a plugin developer is under-rated, never built a bad one 🙂 That said, I did dabble with the plugin Amber, as Tim reminded me, for archiving links both on my site as well as on the Internet Archive, but it was a lot of database overhead and was seemingly inconsistent on WordPress Multisite—so it fell by the wayside.
I’m sure Alan will blog the wonders of how he is augmenting the WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin to point folks at the Internet Archive and I, for one, would immediately install any fork he created. Alan blogged an early example of this plugin modification on his Secret Revolution blog, which in turn linked to this blog post on the bava that then sent me down a rabbit hole of link rot maintenance—a task that will never end until I die, but is oddly comforting in the meantime.
Turns out the article Brian Lamb and I published with the Open University of Catalonia in 2009, “The un-education of a technologist,” was no longer available resulting in a dead link. No problem, I thought, we created a site for the article with all the content at http://unartist.wpmued.org, but when I went there this morning it was throwing a cPanel error. Oh noes!
I immediately knew what the issue was, I had started dismantling my WordPress Multisite instance (http://wpmued.org) several years ago to pull out bavatuesdays, my personal site jimgroom.net, and a few others, but forgot this one. I still had the database and all the files, so I pulled it out of the multisite and stood it up again, and will probably site sucker it up into straight HTML for the most reliable long-term archive. And that, dear reader, is the Sisyphean labor of maintaining the integrity of your blog over the long haul. It’s work I deeply enjoy, but can understand it being overhead for many. So making it easier and better is important and I’m glad Alan is always mindful of the long history of the web we inhabit.
The detour this morning also made me aware that one of my favorite ds106 videos from back in the day, “News on the March,” I’d linked to in that post from 2015 was now private. I had asked the student on several occasions to make it public again, and he always obliges but that can get annoying. So I finally uploaded my version to bava.tv, and embedded that across my blog so it is available apart from Youtube, which makes me very happy.
While searching for that video I noticed that many videos I had linked to for ds106 were no longer working because Youtube had changed their link/iframe structure, so I had a ton of dead links I needed to update, so I then started work on that, and will soon do a database find and replace. Which reminded me how happy I am to have my own little Youtube clone through Peertube that allows me to store and archive all the videos I watch and create. It’s been a game-changer for me, and I quickly archived those ds106 videos on my Peertube instance cause you can never have enough copies.
In fact, as much as I love the Internet Archive, and I do, I like even better the idea we each have some kind of spider tool for the links on our site, like the Amber plugin mentioned earlier, so that there are copies and backups beyond the Internet Archive. Depending too much on one site may prove problematic in the long run, or just unevenly distributed in terms of what you did or didn’t want as part of your personal archive.