publishing for the future

Let’s say, I need to publish content that should be accessible in 10 or 20 years, or more. A good example might be a kid’s blog, created by its parents: they probably want to share the content with a couple of friends and relatives (look this is a video of his first b-day, etc.) but also make sure that this content will be available when they (and the kid!) grow old.

The tools we currently have available are very good for publishing. It’s easy to set up a blog for free, host your photos on flickr or picasa, or somewhere, upload your videos on youtube, embed all that in the blog and you are ready to go.

But, this approach has so many things that can (and probably will!) go wrong: what if your account is shut down, for some strange complaint, or the service goes out of business, or stops supporting a feature you use, or starts charging, or, or…

To be honest, the best solution I’ve found so far, is (surprise!) Apple’s iWeb. It creates static HTML pages, puts all extra media files in separate folders, and it’s easy to upload to an ftp server. The only thing that can go wrong is if your hosting provider fails, but then all you have to do is upload the content to an other one. One can argue that I can’t be sure iWeb will be there in 20 years. That’s right, but that’s not a problem: if Apple stops supporting it, or even if I stop using an Apple computer (iWeb runs only on OS X), the content will still be there, I’ll just have to look again for a new solution. But the content published so far, will still be accessible and portable.

So… any other, more elegant solutions?

3 Responses to publishing for the future

  1. mrpc says:

    You have a point. But on the other hand, even if you have a dynamic blog (mysql based for example, like wordpress), hosted on a webserver, but you own your own domain name, that isn’t that big problem.
    If you own the domain name, even if the hosting company goes out of bussines, you just upload your content to another hosting company and change the nameservers. All you have to do is to keep a backup, something that can be done automaticaly.
    Then, if the technology you use is outdated then, I am sure that if you use a good open source blog engine, you will always have (for free) the tools to migrate to the next technology.
    After all, we don’t even know what will happen to html after 20 years. Html when it first started it didn’t have so much in common with the version we use now. And we don’t know if in the future we will always have backwards compatibility.

    Anyway, if you want to have a backup of your data in html, you can always use HTTrack website copier. It’s one of my favorite tools.
    I use it offen to backup whole sites to take on vocation (for example the wordpress codex documentation wiki, that I couldn’t find in an offline form).

  2. Sofia says:

    Ummmm…. the Luddite in me shouts out “Turn it into a book”. My baby photo album has certainly lasted 20 years (and still going).

    I know that’s not the point of your question. But a baby blog can be put into a nifty little book just in case.

  3. I have kept thinking that being able to export a static version of a blog, including comments, would be a good thing for archival purposes. Maybe I should put some httrack script in a cron job.

    The other way is to solve the problem at its root by only publishing static content – for example that is the way Nanoblogger does it. But by now I’m addicted to the interactive stuff…