Saving Internet History, One Legal Blog at a Time
When I was around the age of seven or eight, like most children my age at the time, I had an obsession with Webkinz. I’m sure if you grew up around that time (or had kids around my age), you know exactly what I’m talking about. My friends and I would camp out in front of the computer at every play date to look at the virtual critters we had accumulated. When we inevitably got kicked off the computer to “get some fresh air and stop frying our brains,” we would bring the physical stuffed animals with us to play pretend.
It was a full-fledged obsession for most of us. When we weren’t playing on the actual site or with the actual toys, my friends and I frequently visited kid-friendly WordPress blogs that detailed the newest happenings in the Webkinz industry. Recently, after finding my old bookmarks bar, I went to see what became of these blogs after the Webkinz bubble burst. Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, most of these blog links are redirected to 404-not-found pages.
While Webkinz news may not seem like the most crucial thing to maintain an archived copy of, the absence of these blogs 15 years later is indicative of a larger problem. A significant portion of the internet, specifically blogs and user-generated content, remains unarchived. If there is no backed-up copy, the information is gone for good as soon as a domain name runs out or a user decides to delete their account/webpage. Platforms like the Internet Archive are actively taking steps to combat this reality; unfortunately, they can only work so quickly.
Web decay is especially concerning considering that online blogs are one of the current platforms of choice for lawyers to publish their explanations, analyses, and interpretations of primary law (also known as “secondary law”). These publications are crucial to the advancement of the legal field, as these persuasive sources are permissible to be cited in a courtroom.
When we lose legal blogs to internet decay, we lose key contributions to the legal system. What once was physically housed in libraries and archives is now stored within the fragile threads of the World Wide Web. By preserving these sources, we preserve crucial information that can be used by lawyers everywhere. This is why the Open Legal Blog Archive is so important.
The Open Legal Blog Archive is a centralized database of all credible legal blog posts worldwide that is accessible via the web, RSS, and an API. The archive’s main purpose is to digitally preserve the secondary law being published in the blogging medium. The archive is committed to remaining open-access to allow for the unrestricted flow of information from legal professionals to the general public, rather than keeping that information behind a paywall.
If you have any questions about the Archive or are interested in getting your legal blog preserved on the platform, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or click here to submit for consideration.