Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 778. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: email@example.com Date: 2020-04-18 07:21:42+00:00 From: Willard McCarty
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.757: on using academia.edu Greetings Gabriel Egan wrote: > Norman Gray thinks that personal websites are less effective at > the "long-term curation" of our writings than services > like Academia.edu are. Personal websites that are entirely > free and open are archived by the Internet Archive. I just > checked and their Wayback Machine has 115 snapshots of my > personal website taken between now and > 2003 when I first created the site. I browsed these snapshots > and, yep, all my writing is there. I certainly didn't intend to endorse academia.edu in this way, but re-reading what I wrote, I think I could have expressed myself better. So thanks to Gabriel for the prompt to (attempt to) do so. In the message Gabriel is quoting, I principally intended to suggest that there is a hierarchy of value here, that academia.edu is rather far down it, and that institutional repositories, by being higher up, have an important place in that ladder for those who have access to them (and that people in institutions should demand access to them). I think academia.edu is a couple of grades less attractive than a disciplinary repository for much the same reasons that Gabriel mentions: they're commercial, their goals are not necessarily aligned with the academy, they may disappear without warning, and without there being a plan for preservation of what they are currently providing. I don't mean to pick on academia.edu, which I don't really know much about (I hope I'm not being unfair to them), but they're a convenient representative of a collection of roughly similar organisations which include researchgate and even perhaps LinkedIn. Where Gabriel and I probably at least partially disagree is that I believe a personal website is _low down_ on this hierarchy of value, precisely because it is _not_ archived in an important sense (and I speak as someone who does look after a personal website, which I very much care about). That's because the 'long-term curation' I mentioned is about more than looking after the bits. The Internet Archive does look after at least some bits, but their interest is in 'the internet', and their collection policy is correspondingly and rightly broad and non-specific (see eg [1, 2] for the International Internet Preservation Consortium, and  for specifically the Internet Archive (IA)). They happen to have snapshots of some of my webpages, too (in one case going back to 8 May 1997, oh happy days), but if they didn't, or if they decided for whatever good or bad reason to 'deaccession' them, I would have no right to complain. I haven't handed over any preservation responsibility to them; they're _only_ preserving the bits. Note: my saying this is not a complaint: this is merely a remark about their (excellent) accession and curation goals. An archive or a repository, on the other hand, _does_ take over (not share) responsibility for objects actively deposited with it. They might mint a DOI for it, curate metadata for it, share information about it with peers, have possibly expensive plans for managing what happens to the archive contents (and the DOIs) if funding fails, and so on. Archivists have full-time jobs, doing detailed work that we generally don't notice, that goes well beyond simply preserving objects. But none of that is guaranteed to happen if IA opportunistically take a copy of my webpage. For example,  is a document at IA, but I can't _rely_ on it being there, not because I think IA are 'unreliable', or because I actually think they might delete it, but because the IA have made no 'institutional commitment to persistence'. With an echo of another current Humanist strand, I would not be happy using  in a bibliography, other than as an act of desperation, or unless I was talking specifically about changes in webpages; that is, unless I was talking about 'the internet', which IA is data for. As far as I'm concerned, the page  has disappeared, and  is simply a contingent copy of it, not an archive version of it. Put another way,  at IA exists for the benefit of 'historians of the internet', and not for the benefit of eccentrics who wanted to read the original document which was once at . In that sense, and in one typology, the Internet Archive is a 'museum' rather than an 'archive' or 'library'. Thus, walking up the ladder: 4. My personal website is 'not archived', in the arguably slightly technical sense I've aimed to make clear, and the various documents on it are, perhaps, 'made available' rather than 'published'. If you find something you like there, take a copy of it rather than a bookmark, because I or my executors may forget to renew the domain registration (lord preserve us!). 3. academia.edu (and friends) at least aim to take responsibility for things posted there, and provide stable-URI services. I don't myself place a lot of store in the multi-decadal prospects of that, for the reasons Gabriel and I probably agree about, but it's not nothing. 2. My institution has been around for a while, and I hope would regard its institutional repository as a very long-term commitment. It's not their main business, but I hope they would feel at least a _bit_ bad about dumping it, if it came to a funding showdown between the repository and the College of Arts . 1. A repository like arxiv.org exists in order to provide archival services. arxiv.org will presumably go under at some point, but in that sorry eventuality I have some confidence that they have a plan to make their published IDs still resolvable by, and their content still retrievable from, their successor organisation. (Journals fit in here, too, but that's for another thread, perhaps). Thanks for forcing me to think through this in a little more detail. Best wishes, Norman  http://netpreserve.org/about-us/  http://netpreserve.org/web-archiving/about-archiving/  https://archive.org/about/  https://web.archive.org/web/19970713211639/http://www.astro.gla.ac.uk/users/norm an/lists/epub.html  http://www.astro.gla.ac.uk/users/norman/lists/epub.html  'So the question you've got to ask yourself, Dean, is "do I feel lucky?"' -- Norman Gray : https://nxg.me.uk SUPA School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow, UK _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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