Practically Extinct small

Online services with unique interfaces that change regularly and through those changes provide a different experience AND different content to their users.

Group: Social Media

Trend: New Entry

Unanimous Decision

Added to List: 2019

Last update: 2019

Previous category: New Entry

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within 12 months, detailed assessment is now a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.


Interfaces to Gmail, Facebook, Google Docs, Hotmail, Ask Jeeves, Tweetdeck, TurboTax, MySpace, Quicken Online, and many others

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Robust and extensive web archives with strong documentation of search algorithms, ranking and personalization of interfaces.

2019 Review

This is a new entry received through the open submission process and assessed by the Jury prior to publication. There are several other entries around social media and the web which pertain to content: this entry highlights the configuration of interfaces and therefore the ever-changing arrangement and presentation of content.  Personalization means that the same query can produce quite different results to different users at the same time; and the application of machine learning to behavioural surplus means the same may obtain different results at different points in time.  That is over and above the rapid churn in the appearance of web interfaces.  There is little appreciation of the implications for the use of online services, and the potential for manipulations that arise. Moreover, the digital preservation community, concerned historically with data rather than interface, has only rudimentary tools to address this challenge.

Additional Jury Comments

Some of the content/iterations of these likely preserved to some extent within existing web archives, but not as targeted collection efforts. As we've seen with myspace and other platforms where the platform producers decide to remove content or shut down rather quickly, it can be too late if this content hasn't been preserved already.

Why can we see how the online services behaved 5 years ago? Moreover, why can't we see the way they manipulated data to present content differently to how they now do such that the content we can access via them is different?

How far do we take this? The returns are likely to diminish. Who is taking responsibility to preserve? What are the platform creators doing to preserve this cultural history?

Some of this information is almost certainly lost already (some through deliberate erasure).

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