Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The part of digital longevity that we can't control

As users of the Internet, we have become beholden to companies (like Google) that provide a variety of tools to use for free. We as individual users and as libraries, archives and museums have gotten used to these tools. We take them all for granted and forget that they are tools that someone is trying to make a profit from,even if using the tool is free. Over the last couple of weeks, I've had to update several web sites to remove the Meebo widget that I had gotten accustomed to using. There went a tool that had found favor in some communities for its usefulness. Since the tool was Internet-based, there was no way to just keep using it without having it supported by the company. They were turning it off. This is the problem with web apps and cloud computing. We can use them, but we can't own them. We have encouraged libraries to take advantage of the free tools at their disposal, but we didn't take into account the hassle when those tools disappear and the library is unble to own a copy of it. Now that organization needs to either search for a replacement or live without that functionality. I've decided to live without a Meebo replacement, although others may make a different decisions. Most of my conversations come through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn these days. (The fact that Facebook chat messages would display in Meebo was actually quite helpful!). I have no idea what others will do. I only know that this isn't the first or last time that they will be confronted with losing an Internet-based tool of value.

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