“Link rot,” and its cousin, “reference rot.” If you haven’t heard about them, spend any time on the Web and you’ll experience them. Link rot means the URL you just clicked on isn’t there; reference rot means the URL is there but the information referenced is not. It’s a growing phenomenon, and in an increasingly online world, it’s more than just annoying. The implications are disturbing.
A new paper released by Harvard Law professor, Jonathan Zittrain, and his student, Kendra Albert, documents the extent of the problem (which, yes, does extend to the Supreme Court). The authors say, “more than 70% of the URLs within the Harvard Law Review and other journals, and 50% of the URLs found within U.S. Supreme Court opinions do not link to the originally cited information.” The authors propose a solution that involves integrating the preservation of linked material with the act of citation through a caching solution known as Perma.
Download the paper from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN):