BitTorrent's "magnet" URIs could be seen as another. I always liked the idea of using torrents to host static web content. There are downsides, but they would be worth it in many cases.
If you used the torrent info hash as the primary identifier of the web content, but also embedded an HTTP URL that the data could be served directly from, you could have secure immutable content with the almost the same performance as a regular website. The torrent data could be used to verify the HTTP data, and the browser would fall back to download from the torrent network if the website was unavailable or served invalid content.
(This would probably require a bit of original design, since I don't think there's an existing convention for getting the actual torrent data over HTTP instead of from peers (DHT), but that's minor.)
But now we have something of a hodgepodge bazaar. For URLs to truly not move around and survive the creator and his/her circumstances, there needs to be a distributed repository. I don't know if Freenet will be that repository (the one time I tried it, it was glacially slow). Maybe Bittorrent's Sync project will pave the way to create a truly universal, persistent, content repository with permanent URI(L)s.
Freenet is only slow because of all the indirection it needs to do to guarantee anonymity. You could get the same distributed-data-store semantics "in the clear" for a much lower cost, and then layer something like Tor on top of them if you wanted the anonymity back.
If you namespaced each Datomic database and add a transaction ID you would get a reference to an immutable snapshot of that entire data store, including pieces of it, like datomic://myhost:<transaction-id>/path-or-query-into-db
The disadvantage of that is that it is data and not a website, however it's possible to use Functional Reactive Programming to let the site essentially be auto-generated from that data store thus giving you the 'website view' again.
That of course still allows your program to be lost, but if you were to add that program to that purely functional data store itself and thus also version your own program, then that is also no longer a problem.
And once you've done that call me, since you'll have built what I've been dreaming of for the past decade.
I'm calling the platform Alph--after the river that runs through Xanadu ;)
I regularly speak with groups of high school pupils about privacy and one of my main points to them is that once they commit their latest brain-fart to the internet, there is a very real chance that it becomes immutable - should it go viral, for instance. If it were absolutely guaranteed that it would become immutable though, that would be a game changer.
Can you imagine if everything that you had ever said at any point in your life was permanently journaled and indexed and searchable? I personally find that to be a horrific concept from a privacy point of view.
From a purely technical point of view I can see the benefit of this idea - I hate it when an old article that I've bookmarked doesn't exist anymore (even when by article I mean, a gif that made me chuckle) but seriously, there's a very different world to a newspaper article being permanently available and a myspace profile, Facebook post or tweet being there forever.
They might negotiate new norms, of forgiveness and understanding towards prior selves.
I have to say, a service I would love would be a website that mirrors content but only if the original source went down, and otherwise redirects to the original site. Imagine something like a URL shortener, but the URL it gives you will redirect to a cached copy of the original page in the event that the original page disappears. That way, you can link and give credit to the people who made the content, but if something happens it isn't lost from the internet for good. It would, in a sense, be a "permanent URL" service. It'd be great for citations too, e.g. wikipedia, academia, etc. I'm not sure if that's what the OP is getting at here, or if he's suggesting something else?
Either way, too bad rights issues would probably stop something like that ever being made.
1) Back in 1998, the company hosting my website received a cease and desist letter from a company that held the "Welcome Wagon(TM)" trademark because of a page I had on my website. That prompted me to get my own domain and move the content over (and I was able to get proper redirects installed on the company webserver). I was happy (I had my own domain, a ".org" and apparently, that was enough to keep the lawyers at bay). The hosting company was happy (they didn't have to deal with the cease and desist letter) and the trademark holding company was happy (they protected their trademark like they're legally required to). I'm sure that the trademark company would be upset if their trademark was still "in use" at [redacted].com (the hosting company, long gone by now).
2) I hosted a friend's blog on my server. A few months later he asked me to take the blog down, for both personal and possibly legal reasons (he was afraid of litigation from his employer, who had a known history of suing employees, but that's not my story to tell). I'm sure he would be upset (and potentially a lot poorer) had his content remained online for all to see.
3) I've received two requests to remove information on my blog. The first time (http://boston.conman.org/2001/08/22.2) someone didn't quite grasp the concept that domain name registration information is public, but I didn't feel like fighting someone who's grasp of English wasn't that great to begin with, and removed the information. The second time (http://boston.conman.org/2001/11/30.1) was due to a mistake, so I blacked out identifying information. I didn't want to remove the page, because, you know, cool URLs don't change (http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI.html); yet the incident was a mistake. There's no real point in seeing the non-redacted version, nor do I really want people to see the non-redacted version.
There are a ton of corner-cases like these to contend with. Just one reason why Ted Nelson's version of hypertext never got off the ground.
For some use cases it would make sense to show the cache (when the original quote is no longer there), while for other it'd make sense to forward (some style update, or an important addition).
How do you think can such service handle this?
- Allow someone to manually view the cached version at any time if they wanted to.
- Show a splash page giving the user to view the original or the new version (complete with a diff highlighting changes?)
- Code some heuristics, similar to Instapaper and the like: if the content of the page changes, display the cached version, but if it's just the layout that changes then display the new version. Or look for dates on blog posts, or words like "Updated: " or similar.
- Give the website owners control: let them submit their site to be linked against, and give them some metadata tag that they can use to flag updates. This sidesteps the rights issues too (the website owner gives permission) and it could also be used as a CDN essentially, or a backup in case of server failure, or if the website is hosted in an unfriendly country etc.
I think it's definitely doable in theory at least.
This is a particular resource:
This is another resource:
A webmaster's responsibility is to make sure his URLs continue to refer to the same things they originally referred to. Conceptually, if you only want to store "the latest news", then you should only have a /latest/, and not a /2012/01/02/news/. Creating the latter is creating a promise that it will stick around, continuing to refer to "the news at 2012-01-02"--a permalink, in the real sense.
The point being that if the resource still exists, the old URI would preferably still point to it. If you, as the arbiter of the resource, decide to remove it, of course the URI will break.
Its interesting to see that people are already saying this is a bad idea but was praising his version of it.
I've since started work on a side project that does this - to be integrated into Fork the Cookbook - since our target audience seems to be very up-in-arms about original recipes.
Pages are expected by the end user to change over time, but they also expect to access them at the same location each time.
These are called Dated URIs/DURIs: http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-masinter-dated-uri-10
No browser currently implements them, but a viable resolution mechanism probably involves keeping a default store of Memento Time-Gates (http://www.mementoweb.org/guide/quick-intro/) and querying them to see if any of them have a copy of your resource for that date.
It's trendy to think of the web as completely stateless, distributed etc, but the reality is that it's not. The state of resources changes over time because the world changes - and URIs are only around to reflect that.
The problem with HTTP is that you mostly can't tell the difference with a 404 between 'It's not there (and was never there)' and 'It's not there (but used to be, and has gone away)'. Servers should send a 410 to reflect that.
The web is amazing because of its participatory potential and it's archival abilities. What might be more interesting than simply having immutable content is palimpsested content where the original object always exists beneath additional changes and additions.
By using a URI like a globally-unique primary key - a symbolic link - into "the database of the web," in place of the content itself (not just as a pointer to a the next page page with cats) you can begin to use all of the web as the data set and something like XPath/XQuery as the query language.
Before any of that can happen, people need to really accept that URIs/URLs can't change their semantic content and rarely-if-ever go away. That's a big problem with the current approaches to displaying content: the references they generate are presumed to be forgettable.
It should read instead as "immutable content" since the OP intends to never have the content a URL points too to never be lost or changed
As for this second part, "once it's published it should always remain out there", I'm not very sure it's a good idea. In many cases I'd actually like to be able to say
that a piece of content has expired (the content is not
It doesn't actually freeze the contents... but it provides a language/key for talking about permanent URI+content bindings.
Basically a sketch of if the entire HTTP-based web worked like bittorrent.