We are now seeing that having old stuff resurface is largely detrimental. Back when it was just some photos in a shoebox, or a paper journal, the worst that could happen to your silly teenage ramblings was some embarrassment that you could quickly move on from. Now you face potentially losing your whole career and family because of some stupid thing you said one time when you were in a bad mood.
One of the most important functions of the brain is forgetting. If you were forced to remember everything, especially all the dumb stuff you did, your mind would be perpetually cluttered and you could never progress and grow. You only remember the significant stuff, and let everything else go.
The slow degradation of old sites is the Internet’s form of cleanup and forgetting, and it’s a natural part of the lifecycle.
Sometimes when I am in a nostalgic mood, I will revisit forums that I once frequented almost 20 years ago (surprisingly, the owner has kept it alive all these years). I love looking at those old posts, reflecting back on how things were at that point in my life. Reflecting back on the community members and my long lost virtual friends, wondering where they are now. They could be dead for all I know. I am glad that it has been archived.
In contrast, I have a side project that I work on occasionally. It is a plugin for a legacy game. The hacking community of this game has long since moved on. All of the golden knowledge of the game, the technical details, have vanished. All the forum posts, all the contributions, are forever gone. The hours upon hours of reverse-engineering efforts are down the drain. Not to mention all the social interactions within the community; the drama, the humour, the conversations. That is sad. I sure wish it was archived.
Historians want stuff from ordinary people, because that stuff, though sometimes lame and embarrassing, gives a glimpse into daily life that the papers of more prominent people might not reveal.
History has long since ceased to be merely the study of important kings, queens, writers, etc. Historians want documentation of what life was like for everyone else, and that is why they study old random finds like people’s diaries and correspondence. Now that humanity has moved into the digital era, obviously people’s old websites will become an object of study.
Ah, but the Rosetta Stone would be much less interesting if we'd already had a (more) complete record. Think of the careers that would have been rendered unnecessary!
"... near the Tannhäuser Gateway. All those hrefs will be 404, like tears in rain"
I think that hybris is what slows us down.
If we got the storage for the history of the everyday person and the compute to analyze it in masses, why not doing it?
Maybe, conservatives would finally keep their mouths shut about how everything was better yesterday and we can finally work with a clear view on what's really wrong with the world...
Things are more complicated than you think, and the conservatives are people too. It seems profoundly illiberal to discount their suffering (their lived experience) just because they seem wrong-headed.