Permanent and long-term

Have you stopped to think about what will happen to your web content in 10 years from now? Twenty years? Fifty?

It occurs to me that a large chunk, probably a majority, of everything I’ve ever posted online is now lost, deleted, or (if I’m lucky) saved by the Wayback Machine. This bothers me, because I’d like to think that the stuff I create has a permanent home, at a permanent URL, and that when I say permanent, I mean it.

But if I’m realistic about it, the chances of this happening to most of my stuff are pretty slim. There’s the historical fact that most of my old stuff has disappeared, but also the unease I feel at the thought of paying for bells-and-whistles hosting for the rest of my life. I don’t want to spend that money on that thing. I have no wish to spend time looking after WordPress, and the PHP and SQL gubbins that it runs on, for the next 10 years, let alone after that.

But I do want some things to be permanent. I regret that the blog post I had announcing Barney’s birth, and the few dozen congratulatory comments it generated, has vanished. It bothers me that, unless I commit to maintaining WordPress for the rest of my life, the small obituary I wrote for my stepdad will vanish too.

Weblog tools are terribly convenient and quick. But anyone who uses them has to choose between one of the following expectations:

So what point am I trying to make here? That I should abandon a blogging tool and just write static HTML pages? Possibly. That I should switch back to Blogger, which allows me the convenience of a blogging tool but which publishes static HTML files to my server via FTP? I honestly don’t know what the best approach is.

I think I’ll be prepared to pay for a domain forever – I’d like to keep my email address – but hosting? WordPress? All the stuff that comes with it? The older I get, the less time I have for it all.

(14th September 2007)