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My Lucky Number

While Rob McNelly understands the thinking behind decisions to archive content, he can't help but dwell on how much we've lost over the years as archives across the web have gone away.

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Thirteen years ago this week, my first AIXchange post went live for IBM Systems Magazine.
 
You may notice that the above link takes you to RobMcNelly.com, my personal website and archive. Early this year, around the same time IBM developerWorks shut down, IBM Systems magazine redesigned its website.
 
The decision was made to scale back the magazine archives, in part because the numbers showed few views for most of the old articles. Though I understand the thinking behind these decisions—as well as the ever-changing nature of the web itself—I can't help but dwell on how much we've lost over the years as archives across the web have gone away.
 
In my case, I decided to re-home my content, which includes almost a decade's worth of AIXchange posts from July 2007 through December 2016. And in case you're wondering, it's no small task; I'm still in the process of loading my archives.
 
On that note, I'm continually amazed by the number of broken links I find in my old articles. I typically reference related, more detailed technical information, and these supporting docs also get moved around or removed from the web. While I update these links whenever I can, a lot of it cannot be recovered. Incidentally this is why I generally quote from sources I reference; if the supporting link goes away, at least you have an idea of what was written.
 
As forward-thinking as the world of tech is, I do feel a little nostalgic for the words and ideas that have disappeared from the web. And I wonder how often we're forced to reinvent wheels and solve problems that were already solved because the solutions put forth in old but still relevant articles are no longer online. Sure, things I wrote two, five or 13 years ago may not be read much these days, but I believe they're still worth preserving. Collectively these short weekly posts represent part of my life's work, so for that reason alone archiving is worth the effort. Plus, as I've mentioned previously, sometimes when trying to resolve a system issue I'll find the answer in one of my old posts. Seriously, it's happened more times than I can count.
 
The AIXchange anniversary is important to me. I use the occasion not just to look back but to look ahead. Wherever you are in your career, take a minute to imagine where you plan to be, and envision what computing might look like then. Me? My plan is to keep writing, linking, and archiving. My hope is I'll still be doing this 13 years from now, and that you'll still be reading.
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