Sunday, September 27, 2015

Profile Article About Inventor of Anti-Link Rot Web Tool

The ABA Journal last week published a profile of  "Legal Rebel" Jonathan Zittrain, the director of the Harvard Law Library.

The Law School invented the tool that helps organizations create an archive of permanent links for web citations. It acts as a tool to deal with the growing menace of link rot.

Link rot refers to broken URLs or to URLs that direct to the original site but whose corresponding document has been removed or relocated without any information about where to find it.

Zittrain was the co-author of a paper on link rot in legal publishing a few years ago that found that 50% of the links cited in U.S. Supreme Court opinions no longer worked properly.

Earlier Library Boy posts about link rot include:
  • Recent Law Librarianship Literature (November 6, 2005): "From Law Library Journal, v. 97, no. 4, Fall 2005: Persistent Identification of Electronic Documents and the Future of Footnotes: 'Over the past decade, the use of Internet citations in the footnotes of law review articles has grown from a trickle to a flood. But it is well documented that Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) experience link rot, that is, over time the URL is more and more likely to become a dead link, making the footnote citation worthless or nearly so'."
  • Most Recent Issue of Law Library Journal (November 5, 2010): "Among the articles that attracted my attention: ... Breaking Down Link Rot: The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archives Examination of URL Stability: 'Ms. Rhodes explores URL stability, measured by the prevalence of link rot over a three-year period, among the original URLs for law- and policy-related materials published to the web and archived though the Chesapeake Project, a collaborative digital preservation initiative under way in the law library community. The results demonstrate a significant increase in link rot over time in materials originally published to seemingly stable organization, government, and state web sites'."
  • Fifth Annual Link Rot Report of the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group (May 3, 2012): "The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group has just published its 5th annual study of link rot among the original URLs for online law- and policy-related materials it has been archiving since 2007 (...) In 2012, 218 out of 579 URLs in the sample no longer provide access to the content that was originally selected, captured, and archived by the Chesapeake Group. In other words, link rot has increased to 37.7 percent within five years."
  • CBC Radio Interview about Link Rot in Court Decisions (October 28, 2013): "The most recent episode of the CBC Radio show Spark includes an interview with Harvard Law School researcher Kendra Albert who co-authored an article about link rot in US Supreme Court decisions (...) In the case of the URLs in US Supreme Court decisions, the authors found a link rot rate of 50%. The Spark researchers checked URLs in Supreme Court of Canada decisions and found many broken links to texts from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Law Society of Alberta and the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, among others."
  • Georgetown University Symposium Searches for Solutions for Link Rot (March 16, 2015): "Retired Supreme Court of the United States librarian Judith Gaskell published an article today on called Link Rot: the Problem Is Getting Bigger, but Solutions Are Being Developed. The article describes a symposium in the fall of 2014 at Georgetown University that examined emerging solutions to the problem of link rot.."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:28 pm


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