Oh you’re absolutely right. Watching history disappear before my very eyes has bothered me from from my first day online. Chat rooms. If you didn’t keep a log, it was gone. BBS’ – if you didn’t save your message on a floppy, if the BBS shut down it was gone. That was over 25 years ago for me and this still bothers me.
1) Internet connection
Solution: Buffers should be automatic in browsers so you don’t lose what you type. Best implementation is cloud — Google Docs saves every keystroke as you type. It’s a very complicated process surprisingly. Look into how it works – it’s an ingenius solution if bloated.
2) Social media or other website or app problems such as server issues
Usenet (1990s) distributed messages so that no single server was responsible for everything. Every server pulled what it wanted and had its own copies. I liked this setup.
3) The problems currently going on with your device
Manufacturers and software engineers and programmers RARELY prioritize the user / client / customer. This is a social problem that’s plagued IT for decades. “Just wipe out the device and start over” should be the LAST piece of advice but it’s usually the first. User data is what’s UNIQUE and should be preserved but we do things backwards.
4) Whether you refreshed the page, and
The scrambling game that Facebook and Twitter do (and more sites will likely follow) is so that we keep our eyes on the screen. But in the process, we lose control and our place.
5) Whether or not people deleted a comment, post, etc in any sort of forum because they decided dealing with people on whatever the issue at hand is just isn’t worth it
Sites should save everything YOU type even if it gets deleted from a group or forum or hidden.
Nowadays the main model in use for online (as in “always working”) continual backup is probably github.
I don’t fully know the process as I haven’t studied it but it looks solid and reliable so that’s a solution that many systems use in their backend for a robust and reliable flexible backup system.
I think you should have full ownership of your own data. I felt that deeply enough that I started backing up everything I ever wrote online to http://icopiedyou.com and continue adding to it (even this message will go right in).
Oh I don’t trust FB either. But I lost my faith in online being responsible when Google acquired Altavista’s archives of Usenet in 2002 and made it publically searchable through Google groups.
Suddenly, EVERY stupid thing I wrote was “public”. So, I quickly found the worst offenders and zapped them. That was 16 yrs ago now.
Since then, I watched a lot of sites disappear. The one that hurt the most was AOL wiping its old forums in 2008. That was 20 YEARS of stuff just “gone”.
I had a few of my own msgs backed up from way back in 1990/91-ish but those forums were a part of online history.
That’s PhD level work there. Open society vs privatization.
In computing, you can go back to Grace Hopper for a fascinating study.
She pushed hard for interdepartmental code sharing back in the 1940s/1950s. Individual computing units would try to hoard their work (this is all in the military) and she fought for sharing as it would build the community, which it did.
In the 1950s, she fought against big companies such as IBM and such trying to hoard code and schematics and was able to keep a significant amount of it “open”.
While corporate privacy vs open code is distinct from personal privacy vs public forum, there is a lot of overlap between the issues and also solutions.
She has my absolute respect, admiration and appreciation.
On another angle, it took me a while to fully comprehend the EU’s “Right To Be Forgotten”. This sounds like your friend’s concern.
I understand it now but it was hard for me to wrap my brain around at first.
Thank you so much for bringing these issues up. It was cathartic writing about it as this is also a set of interrelated issues I care deeply about.
I still go to a public library and notice that a good portion of reference books are now only exclusively online.
What happens when reference materials go behind a paywall or just disappear altogether?
Thankfully, for academic work, there is the DOI system. Similar to http it’s theoretically “forever”. Permenant URLs.
But so much is behind paywalls.
Thankfully, there’s my favorite Russian woman, the woman behind sci-hub. I don’t know her name but her passion for hacking open the DOI system allowing regular folk like me to get access to scientific and academic works is a lifesaver.
I doubt much of anything I did it worth saving. But I wanted to know if it *could* be saved in a reliable way.
I uploaded 10,000+ of my Vines to Internet Archive, extracting the hashtags too, as I didn’t want hashtags to go to waste.
I was so overwhelming the internet archive’s community video section they gave me my own little corner of the library for my own crap. I backed up a bunch of my Youtube videos there too and a thesaurus I’m “selling” on Amazon (that only got a few sales).
So, it’s possible.