Requirements for a website

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What makes a good website, especially one that lasts a long time? gwern has some ideas, namely his twin ideas of Long Site and Long Content. gwern quotes Julian Assange, but it is worth doing so here as well1:

The internet is self destructing paper. A place where anything written is soon destroyed by rapacious competition and the only preservation is to forever copy writing from sheet to sheet faster than they can burn.

If it’s worth writing, it’s worth keeping. If it can be kept, it might be worth writing. Would your store your brain in a startup company’s vat? If you store your writing on a 3rd party site like blogger, livejournal or even on your own site, but in the complex format used by blog/wiki software de jour you will lose it forever as soon as hypersonic wings of internet labor flows direct people’s energies elsewhere. For most information published on the internet, perhaps that is not a moment to soon, but how can the muse of originality soar when immolating transience brushes every feather?

Readers have asked what software is used to run IQ.ORG. A mere page of handwritten ruby constructs the site out the most robust future proof storage form imaginable. A flat directory of text or html files. The directory, like any directory can be backed up, edited, emailed, zipped, transported, printed, trapped in amber etc.

Regarding his publishing system, he writes, “it’s gold until civilization collapses, the neoluddites take control, or both, but then we will have other adventures to please us…”.

Here are some general principles to keep in mind (copied from gwern’s list under “Long Site”):

  1. From “Self destructing paper”. 2006-12-05.↩︎