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404 Error: Page Not Found September 26, 2006

Posted by McStorian in ClioWired.

In reading the final assignment for this week – the blog on searching, spidering, and scraping – I came across and was intrigued by the link to “How to read a book,” probably like others of you.  When I clicked the link, this is what I got: 404 Error: Page Not Found, which in my opinion is one of the biggest weaknesses to this glorious cause of on-line history and self-narration.  Traditional history is theoretically infinite, in that the LOC or some other library in the world will have a copy of new publications.  Many academic websites, such like that of the U. of Michigan, where that link pointed, are extremely fluid.  Budgets, time, and perceived significance all lend to longevity of a popular or scholarly site.  We’ve all experienced countless errors in web browsing, many more than “item not on self” returns from the LOC.  Should historians exert much time and energy into a digital representation when there’s no guarantee that the site will be maintained for future historians?  In 1984, my predecessors in the Army probably thought it was a great idea to store oral history transcripts on WANG disks, yet now the “link” is dead and the information is gone forever.  With the current state of the web, is that a risk worth taking when considering hundred of hours of effort and possibly thousands of dollars of expense?



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