It used to be, back in the days of white-on-black email and newsgroups, that you were able to keep a copy of everything you did on the Internet. Well, mainly it was because you did two or three things and they all required specific client software that had the option of keeping copies of your contributions, but there it was, you could do it. I, for instance, have a majority of my email back to 1996 — that includes mail from Compuserve, AOL, Eudora, Claris Emailer, Outlook Express, and now Apple Mail. My newsgroup client keeps copies of all my sent messages as well, still. That’s another old, large archive.
What I don’t have, really, is a copy of all my comments on the web. Comments on blogs, stores, pictures, videos, links, and others are all on those sites and not something that’s automatically kept around by me. And when I post something material to a site like Flickr or Vimeo, it’s on that server, not mine. I don’t automatically get a copy of it or anything like that.
Practically, this means that my content is so spread out that I’m likely to lose contact with a lot of it, even a majority of it. As someone with more than 10 years of email, that bothers me.
What I want is a way to have places kind of ping back to me what content I’ve made so that I can keep track of it. If there’s a standard way of doing this, then we can all have little personal content services that store everything we’ve made, anywhere, so that we can keep everything we’ve generated.
One solution would be to base it off your email address. Say I’m firstname.lastname@example.org, for example. When I enter that into a comment field, the remote server would do a SRV DNS query for example.com for some service (say, “archive”) and see who handles it. It would then ask that server (perhaps in some XML-RPC or RESTy way) if it handles the account email@example.com. If so, it would say: “He posted a comment on my site. Here’s the text of it and a URL for it.” Et voila! I now have a reference to and archive of my comment.
Similarly, media sites would ping back and give URLs to the raw content that was uploaded. Some archive softwares would opt to pull that down and mirror it for safe keeping, while others (presumably larger services) would just keep the URLs around and maybe a thumbnail.
I want this. Badly.