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Perma’s November Appearances, at a glance

Here’s Perma’s November stats as of Nov 28th, per Westlaw:

  • 40 state and federal court opinions, including the highest courts in:
    • Hawaii
    • Iowa
    • Michigan, as well as
    • The U.S. Appeal Court, Third Circuit, and
    • Appellate courts in New York, Colorado, Illinois, Washington, California and more.
  • 417 law review articles
  • 23 briefs, and
  • 7 additional court filings, including trial court documents and trial court orders.

Sign up here to use to ensure your own linked sources are safe. We are also now offering individual unlimited-use accounts!

MozFest 2018

The LIL team is a freewheelin’ one, always looking for new people to collaborate with, new ideas to connect to our current projects, and welcoming a little bit of chaos – so, naturally, Mozilla’s annual MozFest was a great fit for us to attend! Held this year in London, the event spanned over a week culminating in a large scale conference over the weekend. By their own description, MozFest is “a seven day celebration for, by, and about people who love the internet” and they certainly delivered on the enthusiasm. Over the weekend Ravensbourne University was transformed on all nine floors into the home of six distinct spaces designated for varying facets of the web. Decentralisation, Digital Inclusion, Openness, Privacy & Security, Web Literacy and a Youth Zone were the main “spaces”, each with its own set of speakers, session leaders and artists.  Attendees were set free to visit each of these floors and facilitators encouraged to move away from lectures and towards hands-on workshops.

The session fell, appropriately, in the Web Literacy space, which took over the Ravensbourne library for Saturday and Sunday. We had a great discussion with internet users who were both familiar with the concept of link-rot and those who were seeing it in a new light. We created a physical web to help us visualize the ripple effect of a website going down. Here are some of us in the process of creating it:

Throughout the rest of the weekend, I was able to attend and experience some other great sessions:

  • In the web literacy space, an augmented reality view of the front page of the NYTimes: Users would hold iPads up to this large scale installation to see commentary on headlines. The augmentations ranged from funny to slightly off-putting, highlighting the experience of reading the news in the era of misinformation.

  • In someone else’s shoes: the prevalence of mobile-only internet access, and implications for users who are underserved in many other ways. The group gathered together and were all given user personas and a task to complete using only our mobile phones. Then, we were asked to map out our experiences on a large piece of paper. My partner and I put ourselves into the shoes of a middle-aged mother whose children had been her computer help until they both left for college. She now uses her sister’s smartphone when she needs to access the internet, and needed to apply for a government service. A lot of times, we think of online or digital solutions as simplifiers, but that’s not always the case. Here’s our visual representation of that experience:

  • Creating a feminist data set: Artist Caroline Sinders presented her work creating a dataset that would be capable of informing a responsibly programmed AI with a feminist perspective. Her work is concerned with how bias can trickle into technologies that are often viewed as objective. Her project seeks to create a dataset that is representative of intersectional feminism. 

There were countless other sessions happening, including installations by our friends from MetaLab, a talk by Tim Berners-Lee on his latest work, and a conference-wide LARP event.

Thanks to all the facilitators and organizers! And long live a healthy internet!

Perma & The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota

For the last couple of months, the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota has been using to archive links they come across for their work in both paper and digital publications. According to Director Bill Caraher:

“The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is a small publisher that produces both paper and open access digital publications. As a result we are simultaneously concerned with the economy of space and the need for archival links especially for projects that draw heavily on digital objects. offers both with tidy links and a robust library-supported archiving of web content.”

Recently, the Digital Press published “Protesting on Bended Knee: Race, Dissent, and Patriotism in 21st Century America,” which involved more than 500 links to websites that provide historical evidence about the issues and controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s well-known protests and the reaction to them.  

“By using,” Caraher says, “we preserved the integrity of the relationship between arguments and (digital) evidence and a contextualized body of ephemeral evidence for the history of race, dissent, and patriotism in the 21st century.”

Get your own account here – and email us at to request information on getting a shared company-wide account for your organization.’s Late October Appearances: Opinions, Articles and More keeps popping up: per Westlaw, in the past two weeks Links have showed up in:

  • 27 state and federal court opinions, including the highest courts in:
    • Vermont
    • Illinois
    • Washington
    • Michigan
    • Montana
    • Colorado
  • 119 law review articles
  • 15 court filings, including briefs and trial court documents

Sign up here to use to ensure your own linked sources are safe. We are also now offering individual unlimited-use accounts!

Perma and Genealogy

We’ve spent a lot of time recently brainstorming on different ways Perma can be used outside of the law arena: anyone who has experienced the frustration and disappointment of finding a 404 error instead of the information they were looking for knows link-rot does not discriminate by subject area.  Prompted by some of the teams’ family members’ interest in their personal histories, genealogy research presented us an interesting use-case to explore.

As researchers rely more heavily on the internet across all fields, consistent access to online information will only become more important, and disappearing or changing information can seriously hinder their work.  Thanks to the popularity of online genealogy sites such as and increasing availability of online materials, genealogical research has never been more accessible. Researchers looking into their own families are making connections in real time and documenting their work for others in the future.

But link-rot threatens the stability of this information (and the researcher’s ability to reference it), as well as information cited by others researcher whose original citations no longer exist. A brief survey of blogs dedicated to genealogy and genealogical research has shown that few offer in and of themselves a way to prevent the dreaded 404 error. We believe provides a streamlined way to archive your work as someone undertaking genealogical research, as well as a convenient way to cite it so it’s always available to others.  

Perma is also now recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style as a way to preserve a permanent record of sources that are at risk for change!

Perma Madness! Mid-October Edition

Lots of Perma appearances over the past two weeks! Per Westlaw, in the two weeks Links have showed up in:

  • 24 state and federal court opinions
  • 192 law review articles
  • 16 court filings, including briefs and trial court documents

Sign up here to use to ensure your own linked sources are safe. We are also now offering individual unlimited-use accounts!

Perma at Boston University’s LibraryFest 2018

I had the pleasure of manning a table at the BU Law School LibraryFest this past month! Librarian Shira Megerman invited me to discuss the Library Innovation Lab projects with BU Law Students, including and H2O.

B.U. Law Tower. Image c/o Wikimedia

There was significant interest from the law students, most of which were 1L’s, about how tackles the issue of link rot. As I’ve found with others, they hadn’t considered the potential impact of link rot on their research or citations, but quickly understood both its impacts and how Perma addresses them. Many were also intrigued by H2O, in particular how it lets instructors create a textbook for their course that would be either free (when accessed online) or a fraction of the cost of a traditional casebook (when distributed through a print-on-demand service).

My thanks again to Shira and the BU Library staff for their friendliness and energy! – Brett

iPres 2018

Perma got off the ground in 2013 as one piece of the digital preservation puzzle: helping prevent authors’ work from succumbing to the ephemeral nature of the internet by creating records of what on the web they use and reference. iPres, the longest running conference dedicated to digital preservation was founded 15 years ago, brings together pieces of the same puzzle from around the globe. The field is without doubt evolving quickly so we were very excited this year to attend iPres 2018, which was held in our home town of Boston. We shared our progress with others and participated in some exciting workshops along the way.

Some big takeaways from the week:

As this year marked 15 iPres conferences, there was a great deal of reflection going on. Maureen Pennock, Barbara Sierman, Sheila Morrisey sat on a “looking back” panel. In their eyes, digital preservation is an ongoing and iterative process in which  great communication, planning, and having buy in from the right people is essential. For example, they see outside funding as an amazing catalyst in the digital preservation world. They also emphasized the merits of having every person in an institution who works with digital materials being aware of and participating in preservation. Going forward, they hope to see the use of machine learning and AI to help take on some of the entity and metadata extraction that is now a big drain on time. Finally, they hope that organizations will strive for collaboration and mutual problem solving by contributing to things like COPTR.

What’s  COPTR, you ask? It stands for Community Owned (digital) Preservation Tool Registry, and it acts primarily as a finding and evaluation tool to help practitioners find the tools they need to preserve digital data. Anyone can contribute and edit the registry. Cool stuff. Perma has an entry now!

Finally, our friends over at Rhizome have some exciting stuff going on at their project, Webrecorder. Lead developer Ilya Kreymer is a friend of LIL and a former summer fellow here at the lab. Webrecorder, much like Perma, does not work like a traditional crawler that other archiving services use to capture the web. Instead, we’re both creating what we call “high fidelity” captures, created using a headless browser that records aspects of the code such embedded media, Javascript and other interactive content that crawlers miss.

This process creates a much higher quality capture, but has limitations in scale since the process is user-triggered. But, we were super excited about seeing that Ilya is also experimenting with capturing entire sites and platforms in this high fidelity way. You can check out his work with scalar now, although you must request access since it is not open to the public yet. Check out Ilya’s own words here.

We’ve always known here at that our effort to save the web’s citations from link rot was only one piece of the puzzle, and we loved hearing about how the other the puzzle pieces are iterating, growing and collaborating. Looking forward to next year!


Perma Pops Up on Westlaw, Week of October 1st

Per Westlaw, in the past week Links have showed up in:

  • 9 state and federal court opinions, including opinions by the highest court in
    • Illinois
    • Washington
    • Massachusetts
  • 35 law review articles
  • 5 court filings, and an environmental law forms guide.

Sign up here to use to ensure your own linked sources are safe. We also offer organization-wide accounts and are now offering individual unlimited-use accounts!

New Policy Regarding No-Archive Metatags

We’re excited to announce a change to the way handles our users’ efforts to preserve web pages that have generic no-archive metatags.

In the past, when someone used Perma to preserve a webpage with a generic no-archive metatag (such as a New York Times or NPR article) the resulting Perma record was automatically, unalterably set to “Private.” We’ve found that this practice was unnecessary and often a source of confusion and frustration for our users.

Going forward, when someone uses Perma to preserve a page with a generic no-archive tag, that Perma record will not automatically be set to “Private.” Instead, these records will be public by default, and users will have the option to manually make them private if they or their institutions wish. In addition, existing Perma records with generic no-archive metatags will remain private, but users now can make those records public. will continue to recognize any Perma-specific “noarchive” metatag or a Perma-specific robots.txt exclusion. Any Perma records of sites implementing those methods will be private.

We’re enthusiastic about the way this change will provide even greater access to links and citations that’ve been protected through Perma. Feel free to reach out to us at  info at with any questions!

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