Today we released a small set of improvements to Perma:
- Upgraded Django version to 1.11.13
- Removed Opbeat, which is shutting down and no longer needed
As you may have read elsewhere, CNN pages are notoriously difficult to archive. Our developers will attest to the complexity of CNN web pages and the impact that can have on speed and fidelity of capture. Often, whenever folks using Perma.cc report trouble preserving a page, one of our first questions is “Is it CNN?”
But CNN’s not all trouble, it turns out. Recently we discovered a Perma.cc link embedded in — of all places – a CNN.com article that cites an American Medical Association press release: https://perma.cc/CNE4-FEQ9.
Great to see that CNN appreciates a good web archive!
In recent months we’ve been asking this question more and more: does link rot matter to lawyers?
One context where it matters – or should matter – is in court, when lawyers routinely cite web pages in their briefs, complaints or other filings.
Here’s one example: a Complaint filed by lawyers for the Freedom of the Press Foundation against DOJ, CIA, NSA and other federal agencies for access to records concerning government surveillance of members of the news media. This Complaint cites several web pages that could disappear, change or break while the case is pending or at any time in the future. Fortunately the lawyers included Perma.cc links for each of the cited web sources, such as this one, a DOJ press release: https://perma.cc/NQQ8-82F2.
Here’s another example: a brief filed two weeks ago with the U.S. Supreme Court in Weyerhauser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This document also cites to several ephemeral online sources. These lawyers also included Perma.cc links pointing to preserved versions of the cited source. No matter what happens to the original source, the Perma.cc links will point future readers – such as Supreme Court justices and their clerks – to a stable record.
Lawyers no doubt want their citations to be accurate, reliable and helpful. When citing web pages, that means using web archiving tools to prevent link rot.
Perma.cc currently is free for lawyers to use to preserve up to 10 links per month. We offer paid subscriptions for higher volume use. You can sign up at https://perma.cc or reach out to us at info at perma.cc to learn more.
We’ve been hard at work improving Perma in ways big and small. We’re really excited to announce these improvements, and we want to give you overview of what’s changing.
So here goes…
Permanent Links by Default
We’ve closely studied the ins and outs of Perma Link creation, and we’ve decided to simplify the process by making all links permanent by default. As a result, every link you create will become permanent automatically, unless you delete it within a 24 hour period. You’ll no longer need to vest links. This should be a welcome simplification.
Here’s a before-and-after look at the link creation process:
The Old Way
Step 1 – Enter the URL and submit
Step 2 – Confirm the thumbnail image and click the Perma Link
Step 3 – Click the “Vest” button
Step 4 – Assign the Link to a vesting organization
Step 5 – Assign the Link to a folder
The New Way
Step 1 – Enter the URL
That’s it. Just one step. When you enter the URL and submit, we preserve the page and take you directly to the preserved record. If you do nothing else, the link will be permanent. You can delete the link within 24 hours if you made a mistake or change your mind, but otherwise it stays put.
Archiving organizations, previously called “vesting organizations,” and their affiliated users, previously called “vesting users,” will still be able to create unlimited links on behalf of their organizations. This change is more about labels than function. Organizations will still enjoy all the same benefits, capabilities and access they have now.
Perma.cc users will now be able to create up to 10 links per month using their individual accounts, in addition to any links they create on behalf of archiving organizations. These personal links will be permanent, as will any previously unvested links.
Visiting Perma Links
When you visit a Perma Link, you’ll be shown the web archive version of the preserved web page by default. You’ll still have easy access to the screenshot version and to the present-day live version, but the interface will be much more intuitive and easier to navigate, both for you and for readers who may have no familiarity with Perma.
Managing Perma Links
You’ll be able to access all of your and your organization’s links and folders from one screen, the same screen you use to create new Perma Links.
Public & Private Links
Links that are not publicly visible will be referred to as “private” rather than as being in the “dark archive.”
This is just an overview of the highlights. We’ve made many other little improvements, and we’re really proud of the results. We expect the changes to go live early next week and look forward to your feedback. As always, thank you for you continued enthusiasm and support for Perma.cc!
The Perma.cc Team
The Perma.cc team is thrilled to welcome two new law library partners:
We’re now at 75 total library partners! And collectively we’re supporting the efforts of over 200 journals, courts and other vesting organizations.
Not too shabby.
The current issue of The New Yorker includes a terrific piece by Jill Lepore on the many exciting developments and challenges in the field of web archiving.
Lepore details the wonderful, pioneering work by Brewster Kahle and our friends at Internet Archive, as well as Herbert Van de Sompel and the Memento team. She also describes the impact Perma.cc aims to make in the world of law reviews and court decisions:
[Perma] was developed by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, and its founding supporters included more than sixty law-school libraries, along with the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the Internet Archive, the Legal Information Preservation Alliance, and the Digital Public Library of America. Perma.cc promises “to create citation links that will never break.” It works something like the Wayback Machine’s “Save Page Now.” If you’re writing a scholarly paper and want to use a link in your footnotes, you can create an archived version of the page you’re linking to, a “permalink,” and anyone later reading your footnotes will, when clicking on that link, be brought to the permanently archived version. Perma.cc has already been adopted by law reviews and state courts; it’s only a matter of time before it’s universally adopted as the standard in legal, scientific, and scholarly citation.
We couldn’t agree more!
In October, our fearless leader Jonathan Zittrain offered an inspiring vision and call to arms for all of us working in the field of digital preservation.
His remarks kicked off an important conference hosted by the Georgetown Law Library: 404/File Not Found: Link Rot, Legal Citation and Projects to Preserve Precedent.
The speakers included several key leaders in the fields of web archiving and digital preservation, including our own Kim Dulin, who participated in a panel discussion on strategies for combating link rot. All of their remarks are available online courtesy of the Georgetown Law Library.
Our thanks to Georgetown and the other participants for a terrific symposium. It’s wonderful to see so many people working earnestly with us to solve this problem.
We get a thrill from checking out the Perma stats page. As our users, library partners, journals and links all continue to grow, we know we’re taking a bite out of link rot.
But even more than stats, we love seeing how our users put Perma.cc into action in their articles opinions. To highlight some of those users, we’ve added a new section to our home page — called “Perma in Action.” Right now we’re featuring the Michigan Supreme Court and the Harvard Law Review. Take a look at what they’re doing with Perma!