The present becomes the past in a blink. That's not news, yet is still somehow always surprising. Transferring the TrackerNews Editor's blog archive from its original home on Wordpress to this website proved an unexpected exercise in time travel. It is easier to see trends from a distance. It is also easier to see the consequences of unheeded warnings, the hollowness of conference hype and good ideas that have gotten lost in the shuffle.
I wrote the Editor's blog as a companion to the TrackerNews aggregator, but looking at it now I can see it was more than that. At more than 100,000 words it is almost a book, covering everything from disease outbreaks to oil spills, earthquakes to climate change and demographics to design, spanning a three year period from 2008 to 2011 (When we ended the demo project, I started another blog, TrackerNews: Dot to Dot, which covers much the same beat, but is a more personal platform.)
Moving the blog also revealed a hidden "meta" story about the fragility of digital information. Like the aggregator, blog posts were loaded with links, both in the copy and as mini-bibliographies. Although I was not able to check every link to see whether it still worked, I checked all the videos and was shocked to see how many failed. Accounts had been cancelled on YouTube. Several public videos were now private, available only by permission. Many videos sourced from broadcasters were hobbled by the nearly obsolete technologies of proprietary players. Whenever possible, I found other sources for the same videos or looked for alternates. But that did not diminish the unsettling realization that nothing is truly permanent on the web. The implications for research and reporting are vast.
Although this website has keyword search and the blog can be sorted by month and category, I thought it might be useful to create a directory listing every post by title. The order is the same as the blog itself: the last post at the top, the first post at the bottom. In addition, I created a slideshow with links to some of my favorites posts.
Ironically, the personal TrackerNews template I was developing with my colleagues at InSTEDD would have provided a better way to display these links. This was a side project that never got beyond v.1: a pre-Pinterest, Pinterest-like format designed to make it easy for anyone to copy, clone, organize and share links and whole categories (see slideshow on journalism: sci / tech page). Perhaps one day a v.2 will be built.