UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

A Backup Copy Of This Blog

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 July 2007

Casey Leaver has raised an interesting issue on her blog on the University of Warwick blog service:

In the middle of August I will be leaving Warwick (to be the new Corporate Communications Manager at the Open University). … But, given that I will have to migrate my blog, where is the best place to go?

Blog migration is likely to be important not just for departing staff and students who make use of a blog service hosted at their institution, but also potentially users, such as myself, who use an externally hosted blog. What will I do if, for example, WordPress change the licence conditions for their hosted blog service?

John Dale suggested the Vox service – especially as it provides control over access to blog posts which appears to be a valuable aspect of the Warwick blog service. And as John is someone whose opinions I value I thought it would be worth trying out Vox.

So I signed up for the (free) service, selected a look-and-feel and (after first temporarily changing the number of RSS feeds served from the default of 10 to 200 so that all of my postings could be accessed) used Vox’s import option to import all of the posts. And, within 10 minutes, I had a functioning backup copy of this blog, as illustrated :-)

UK Web Focus blog on Vox

As a backup of my main blog I could have restricted access to the Vox blog. However it occurs to me that the copy could provide a testbed for various blog experiments. So the blog is available at the address http://ukwebfocus.vox.com/ (although I reserve the right to change the access conditions).

Initial Technorati statistics for Vox blog

An initial experiment is to revisit the experiments with Technorati I carried out shortly after I launched this blog. And, as can be seen when the blog was created it was ranked as number 3,485,803. This was interesting in itself, as Technorati claims that there are over 70 million blogs. Why did my new blog appear in the top 4 million blogs, I wonder? And even more perplexing was that two days later it was rated at number 7,702,784.

I also noticed that when I claimed the Vox blog in Technorati that I now have to be able to demonstrate that I do actually own the blog (either my signing in to the blog or my adding code to the blog). This addresses a limitation that Paul Walk mentioned to me recently when he discovered that his original blog had been claimed by someone else, and Paul need to track down and contact the person in order to be able to access statistics about his own blog.

I have also registered the Vox blog with the Blotter service. This should provide a graph showing how the Technorati ratings for the blog change over time. As the blog is intended as a backup copy I would expect (hope) that links are made to the master WordPress copy, so there should be no reasons for the Technorati rating to fluctuate greatly. It will be interesting to see if this is the case. (Also note that currently the Blotter service does not display any image; instead it gives the message “Exception: Exception Message: Technorati returned no results for this blog”; it is rather unfortunate that a display of a broken image is given.)

I have noticed that comments made on the blog have not been imported to the Vox service. In addition I have also noticed that internal links in the blog (i.e. links I have made in my posts to other posts) link to the original WordPress blog. And images are also hosted on the WordPress blog.

So the 10 minutes I spent importing the blog (less time than it took to write this post!) did not provide a service which will be fully functional if the WordPress blog is deleted. However the process has been useful in making me aware of various issues which I hadn’t considered previously. And, of course, there are lots of other issues which I’ll still need to explore – such as how to keep the backup Vox blog up-to-date as I continue to wrote new postings on the UKWebFocus.wordpress.com blog (if, indeed, I choose to do this).

The Vox blog service also allows greater freedom in adding widgets to the sidebar than the WordPress.com service – so this will enable me to carry out various blog experiments that I can’t do on the master copy of my blog.

And while I experiment with using Vox as a backup for my WordPress blog I notice that Casey Leaver has moved her blog from the Warwick service to http://caseyleaver.wordpress.com/ (and she has successfully migrated her blog comments too).

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11 Responses to “A Backup Copy Of This Blog”

  1. [...] A Backup Copy Of ThisBlogBlogmigration is likely to be important not just for departing staff and students who make use of ablogservice hosted at their institution, but also potentially users, such as myself, who use an externally hostedblog.… [...]

  2. Chris Rusbridge said

    Brian, not quite to your point, but from a different angle: I saw today an announcement from the LOCKSS team in Stanford that they have released a plugin that will preserve David Rosenthal’s blog in the LOCKSS system (see http://www.lockss.org/). The announcement has not made it to their web site yet; here’s some of the text.

    “We are thrilled to make available for preservation “DSHR’s Blog” (http://blog.dshr.org/) which is hosted on Blogger, Google’s blogging service. This is an important milestone for the LOCKSS Program and for libraries who are continuing to build research-level collections in the web environment. Blogs are growing in importance and they are particularly vulnerable to loss. We are pleased to be providing to the library community a tool with which they can easily and cost-efficiently preserve these materials.”

    In the UK we have a LOCKSS UK pilot run by the DCC (see http://www.dcc.ac.uk/lockss/), with some 30 pilot institutions. So, if say half a dozen of those institution get together, and write the plugins (not too hard… and basically done for Blogger I guess), and get the blogger’s consent, then these blogs can be preserved independent of the blogging service.

  3. Peter Cliff said

    Let it go. Blogs are temporary ramblings and should be forgotten, deleted, consigned to the bin, just like all those diaries that we keep from when we were 15 or old copies of PC Plus from 1988. They are no longer relevant and while nostalgic to look at, pointless to keep collecting dust.

    Migration is different of course, as is a personal backup so as not to lose things, but permalinks and backups of blogs so people can always read them? I don’t want to always read them – there would be far too much anyway – imagine if 70 million blogs were backed up daily? Just the energy consumption would be crazy!

    Why would you want to cite a non-peer-reviewed blog of opinions anyway? It is a bit like trying to tape conversations down the pub to prove a point in a business meeting later – it should not be acceptable.

    Pete (having a devil’s advocate day ;-))

  4. “imagine if 70 million blogs were backed up daily?”

    You’ve heard of Google, right?

    “Why would you want to cite a non-peer-reviewed blog of opinions anyway? It is a bit like trying to tape conversations down the pub to prove a point in a business meeting later – it should not be acceptable.”

    That’s great if you’re an academic, terrible if you actually do any work.

  5. Peter Cliff said

    But how many Googles does the world need? Y’know, I’m not convinced serious business types would be convinced by “it’s true, I read it on a blog” either…

  6. Mike Nolan said

    Stop press! Internet contains crap content!

    But it also contains a lot of very useful information, and a proportion of that is contained in blogs. You might not go around quoting any old blog, but those written by people with a proven history, or quoting reliable sources certainly have merrit.

  7. Chris Rusbridge at 2 is right that the LOCKSS system can now preserve some blogs on Blogger, and that we’re working to extend this to other platforms. But the technology can’t yet handle blogs that use the more sophisticated capabilities of Blogger templates.

    I discuss some of the reasons why research libraries might be interested in preserving some blogs here,
    and the fundamental reason why most blogs will not be preserved here.
    There are clearly now subject areas for which some blogs are essential research materials. For example, it is no longer possible to understand US politics without reading blogs.

  8. Pete – how many Google’s do *you* need? Also I can tell you now that business decisions can be and are made on what some guy wrote on his blog. To reinforce Mike’s point, let’s take a totally trivial example and say, hmm, Sun Microsystem’s CEO and President Jonathan Schwartz?

  9. [...] blogs, sunI just followed a link in a comment from Phil Wilson to Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s blog. The first entry caught my interest: But [...]

  10. [...] because Typepad should be doing that job for me… but just what if? So I was interested to see a post from Brian (Kelly) talking about using Vox to back up his Web Focus blog. Looked simple, so had a go. The [...]

  11. [...] which provided the first large-scale student blogging service a number of years ago. And as I wrote about a year ago, we are starting to see the first generation of student blog enthusiasts asking these [...]

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