Somebody from IVPress was kind enough to email me that a link in one of my posts to one of their titles was pointing to the wrong place, and would i please fix it (who knows for how many hundreds of others this is true!). This was a post from December 2003: since then, i’ve changed my blog hosting service, blogging software (Radio Userland to WordPress), page layout, my laptop, and who knows what else. So the only possible fix was to download the HTML file, edit the raw file, FTP it back, and hope i didn’t break anything else in the process. How quickly our recently past technology becomes brittle!
What makes hyperlinks so easy and appealing — an immediate connection from one page to another — is of course also what makes them so fragile. Putting one layer of indirection in the middle — a link catalog, for example, that i own and maintain — would let me keep them pointing to the right place for as long as i cared to maintain it. And in some respects, that’s how my blog works: it’s my own catalog of things i once found interesting, and that (occasionally, as for example when prompted by others) i can update to point someplace new. It’s not general, it’s not flexible, but it mostly works.
Of course, there’s an inherent tension between the quick, informal nature of blogging and considerations of permanence: this isn’t “the scholarly literature”, after all. But why shouldn’t it become more and more that way, and why shouldn’t we try? Like Jon Udell, i’d like my web writing to remain valuable for as long as feasible, given my modest investment of time.