When I go researching something for an article, I like to collect the artifacts that inform me along the way and stow them away.

I have a large directory on my computer of notes that I have taken over the past year or so that is part of this. When I call a source or get a call from a source, I will open up a document where I take notes, and once the call is over, I save and date the file.

Those notes are protected. They’re not like public records request, which I feel compelled to archive, organize, and share. They’re notes to myself on conversations with people who might not want what I’m typing to be published, let alone written down somewhere.

I have a hard time deleting those notes because I just have this impulse to collect and organize information. It’s not exactly a hoarding impulse I think; it’s more like a way to create an historical record.

Having an historical record is useful for my own purposes (I sometimes need to look back at documents that I don’t want to google for again) and, theoretically, for the public (as a means of citing my sources). It’s also hard.

Fortunately, it’s a system, and I like systems. I like automating systems, too. Systems already exist for archiving documents, so it’s a solved problem; I can just work off those solutions to create my own systems that mesh nicely with my workflows.

Here’s one example: Linking to other websites can present landmines.

If a small blog where I learned some kind of trick goes offline because the owner didn’t renew a license, subscription, domain, or something, that webpage upon which I laid my eyes is liable to disappear into the ether, without any chance to archive it.

Yesterday, instead of writing this post, I created a script to archive webpages to which I link from this website. Having finished it in only an evening, I have to say that I really think there is something to the Ballmer Peak.

Ballmer Peak comic by xkcd

comic by Randall Munroe, licensed CC BY-NC 2.5

All this means is that I now can regularly archive websites so that information I find online does not simply evaporate into thin air.

That’s not the whole thought I wanted to express here, but this post is already a day late heh.