17 January 2007

Blog Perdurability and the Information Commons

Simon Phipps raises an important point: what should be done about corporate blog pages when their owner has, er, passed on (as in to another company)? Sun's solution:

When we started blogs.sun.com, we had a long discussion about what we should do when employees left. The conclusion we all reached, supported strongly by Jonathan Schwartz who attended the meeting, was that they should simply be left in place, merely closed for further changes. Our view was that, if the blog text had been acceptable when it was published, there was no reason a change of employment status should vary that. Not to mention the desire by Tim to preserve URIs. Interestingly, one of Jonathan's motivations for this was also so that people could pick up where they left off when they rejoined Sun!

But I'd go further. I think that companies have a responsibility to maintain the availability of any materials that they make public. This is because of the changed nature of information these days: it's inherently interconnected, and snipping out a weft here and a warp there isn't good for the rest of the data tapestry.

Publicly-available information forms a commons; removing it constitutes a destruction of part of that commons. Ultimately there should be laws against it, just as there are against chopping down historic trees that form part of the landscape commons.

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