Building Everlasting Sand Castles

When we built pages out of HTML tables, we measured our designs to that of print. Books, magazines, posters, and so on.

With the arrival of multi-device web, it was obvious that the separation of print and interactive is very real. We can achieve e‑commerce, make connections, on a scale that a book simply cannot. 

Yet, there is nothing like a book. 

It’s a time capsule without need for a power supply — needing only our mind, the time to engage it, and the light on a sunny day.

I’m able to buy out-of-date design books off of web seller like an Amazon or eBay, just as easily I could loan a book from a designer friend. 

Yet, we seem to be constantly looking for the next alternative.

I can’t go back in time and look at the content on Geocities, Apple’s iWeb pages, Gowalla social history, or the code from Yahoo! Pipes.

Even a small number of years removed from their deletion, we can never know whether how big the collection was. All we know is its absence like the great Library of Alexandria.

Winter seems like an appropriate time to have these discussions. And with the death of the prolific Bowie, even more so. 

Soon Spring arrives. I would prefer to think about ways in which we are preserving our digital work — the good stuff and the mistakes—for the next generation of web designers 

It is not about passing on monuments of ourselves, but it is an honest hope that they learn from our mistakes rather than repeat them.

What the answers to these questions: How are we preserving our digital work? What happens to this online work when we pass away? Can this Internet archive survive the same amount of time as a simple book? 

About Christopher Schmitt

The Internet's Christopher Schmitt is an award winning designer, author, and speaker and one of the people behind the web conference team, Environments for Humans. He hosts the Non Breaking Space Show and curates the weekly UX Design Newsletter.

One thought on “Building Everlasting Sand Castles

  1. Was the internet meant to be a permanent archive of content or means of access and distribution of content? 

    The medium is intangible, so does its intangibility makes it ephemeral?

    ps: somewhere in a box is my original Geocities website safely archived on a Jazz disc.

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