Analysis. Publication and the www.



The relationship between the published word and the www.

Some years ago, a university lecturer told me he told his students never to cite web pages, because they were not permanent.

My concept of a permanent web page endowed by the author and guaranteed in perpetuity by aome inastitution like the British Library, in return for a once-over fee, has been resisted by the officials in the British Library, to the extent of even refusing to reject the idea. See Permaweb 1 , Permaweb 2 , Permaweb 3 and Permaweb 4

The status of publications is partly governed by their permanence. A daily newspaper has lower status than a Sunday newspaper. A monthly magazine has higher status than a newspaper. A refereed monthly of quarterly journal has higher status.

All of these publications lose status if they publish web addresses, because websites are temporary. They also do not publish web addresses because the printed word is in competition with the www. However, as time goes on and the www increases in size and reputation, publications gradually succumb to pressure and start to publish www addresses, even though they are temporary.

If only some permanent institution like the British Library would deal sensibly with Permaweb, they would have massive income and also publications would no longer avoid publishing www addresses.

For the institution which takes up "Permaweb", the financial rewards will be massive. We can imagine most gravestones having a Permaweb address engraved on them, pointing to a eulogy on the deceased. CVs will find their way onto Permaweb, with an additional fee each time they are upgraded. Autobiographies will be on Permaweb, except that they will be rather long, and so the economics will be less attractive.

Initially, Permaweb will be restricted to the printed word. Pictures would command a much greater fee.

Ivor Catt 26 June 2009



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