long . lines and ripples

Warning: Not New

Warning: Not New

What is the purpose of this cautionary note? The article wasn’t time sensitive: it was about the results of a scientific study. But even if it were about an unfolding event, the article had a timestamp. It’s not hard to notice that it is old.

Maybe I should be surprised that I don’t see this more. The internet is nothing if not up-to-date, a wonder machine for “generating” new “content” to keep a subset of people in this world busy: those who are trapped behind a screen.

We may not see these banners more often because the internet has a better, more silent way of dealing with obsolescence: make it invisible. Search engines are heavily biased toward measures of current relevancy, not historical completeness. Most content still technically exists, but is practically unreachable unless a user knows the exact location of the page.

But even if Google can find clever ways to sift through the total volume of the internet’s content, individual users and websites may not. As the years and, eventually, decades of a prolific internet pile up, there will be more of the old to stumble into. For me, given the choice between living in the perpetual present of today’s cat video, or unpredictable contact with the old alongside the new, I’d rather come across a few old pages now and then. It’s nice to be reminded that not everything disappears online.