Surf’s up: Deep-Diving through Hurricane Katrina’s Unsearchable Digital Past

 

Almost since their inception, social media platforms have been valued as a critical resource for sharing news and information during times of crisis; as such, several strategies for archiving that information have been put into place. No such strategies had yet been put in place in the late 1990s and early 2000s, during the advent of web-based blog publishing, the precursor to today’s social media. The fact that much of this user-generated historical text is subject to random erosion has largely escaped notice. A qualitative analysis of the archives of more than 300 Gulf-coast-based blogs published before, during and after Hurricane Katrina suggests that an important part of that history has already been lost.