Saving the world bit by bit

Dependency on 3rd Party Services: NO

url_shortener

While updating the website for the Northwest Bronx Coalition, we realized some old pages had some embedded video from youtube and other media providers like ABC.  One of these videos had been taken offline by that particular provider.  This was very frustrating as this particular video really showcased how the mainstream media had picked up one of their actions.  So we had to take this video or lack thereof down until we could scour the web to find a replacement, hopefully on a more reliable provider(youtube?).

This situation highlights a huge issue with the web.  Its impermanence.  This issue came to a head recently when a popular url shortener went out of business leaving millions of stranded and shortened obscured links all over the web. Yes, its true that anytime we post a link, that reference can change or go out of date or change its content entirely.  Hopefully, the previous link still exists when you are reading this.  However, this clearly is a much smaller problem than sites that hold large amounts of links spread clear across the intarweb.  This is not the only problem with url shorteners, fyi.

So, the moral of the story: do not rely on critical content stored on 3rd party providers.  This includes videos, images, urls, etc.  The remedy must be dealt with on a content type by content type basis.

 

  1. For videos, images, and other copyrightable content stored online: rip and host! yup I said it.  This is obviously a controversial statement as you must clearly stay within the law when you do this.  But make sure you know your copyright law and you might actually realize you had rights to display content you wouldn’t ordinarily have thought.  At very worst, just rip and archive.  This is probably still controversial and would be interested to hear more knowledgeable minds weigh in on this.
  2. For url shorteners: don’t use em!  There is absolutely no need.  As stated in this article, if you have a phone that is smart enough to follow a link, it can probably concatenate text messages and therefore the 140 character limit is irrelevant.
  3. Is there another content type I’m missing that is cross referenced across the web?