Moving an old but active website onto an entirely new platform is a great deal like moving to a new house after spending many years at your current residence. That is particularly true if you generate a lot of archived content. It’s a big job, with an array of menial chores, but it is also an opportunity to assess and discard the labors of the past. What do you take with you, what do you discard and consign forever to the “poppy that abideth all of us by the harbour of oblivion?”*
If you’ve ever spent time going though old letters, papers and journals, you know that odd feeling of seeing many things one last time. Is this one worth saving? That is the question I’ve been juggling lately as I play the role of affectionate executioner with an archive of hundreds of webpages, most of which would be too laborious, and whose value too dubious, to save. Does anyone need to see a 2007 newsletter pitching an event 10 years gone by or a book which we are no longer featuring? The 2007 DDG Stocking Stuffer of the Year Award, though?
What content, beyond obvious information such as coming events and so forth, has value on a website? Analytics reveal much of course, but structure and emphasis, given a fresh slate, count too. After all it is narrative that gives content meaning, and we are all faced with combating Amazon’s smiling, apocalyptic to everything but itself, narrative, with one of humanity, artistry, and community. Curating what endures is intrinsic to what we do, be that books or community. The narrative of forceful inevitability is inherently passive; our narrative must capture an active continuity which incorporates an enduring past and a vital present. As we clean out our attics it behooves us to save things and rearrange and organize things with our store narratives in mind. Is anyone else cleaning out their website’s attic? How do you see these issues?