My COO, Garry Vander Voort’s post yesterday about MySpace’s deleting their user’s archived content should serve as a wake up a call to legal professionals publishing articles and blog posts to third party controlled systems.

MySpace announced this week, that in addition to other content, over 50 million music tracks were lost. 

Per MySpace:

”As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from MySpace. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

“We apologize for the inconvenience.” More than glib as Vander Voort describes the statement, it’s more of a “tough luck, what do you expect from us, we’re just one of those Internet companies to whom you pay little or nothing, what more could you expect.”

Think companies don’t think that way? Sit in an investors meeting when the projected businesses models didn’t pan out.

There are some brilliant people in legal innovation who are publishing on Medium, an online publishing platform founded by Ev Williams, a co-founder of Blogger and Twitter.

They include Rob Saccone and Ed Walters, writing to and storing their publishing on Medium here and here. Rob has eight articles on Medium and Ed, six. 

Though not publishing often, when you are a widely recognized legal tech entrepreneur and former corporate leader at Thomson Reuters. writing and commenting on “Tech, Data and Innovation Breaking Down the Barriers Between Law Firms and Business,” you are going to be cited. Your pieces are going to be shared in law school and MBA classrooms. 

Same thing applies when you’re the co-founder and CEO of a 22 year old, yet still the fastest growing legal research company — and teach Robots and the Law at two law schools — and publish “Data is the New Oil: Legal Management Lessons from John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.” 

We could blame companies like MySpace or, in the case of legal publishing, Bloomberg Law, for deleting content, but as Vander Voort says, “I think we would be wiser and happier in the long run if we instead used this opportunity to look at our own behavior.”

“Do you care about the content you are posting online?  If so, you should be considerate of where you are posting it.  Is it a closed system?  Do you have the ability to retrieve that content when you want it?  Will it be in a format that is useful for you in the future?”

Look at blogging. 

“A lot of great options exist for open Content Management Systems that allow you access/download to your content in convenient formats. WordPress is by far the largest and most successful example.

Yet people continue to buy into closed systems. Either buying opaque packaged software that hides behind vague promises of security or in closed publishing platforms that strip you of the rights to your own work.“

Get beyond looking at publishing as content marketing to grab attention or to improve search performance. That’s akin to advertising, something we’re not looking to store because of it’s lasting effect on learning, knowledge and advancements in business and the law. 

Vander Voort puts it well. 

“The decision you make on “where” to post content has long term repercussions. Not just for the long term accessibility of your content, but also for the viability of the web itself. 

When millions of files are silenced all at once, it creates a giant hole in the web. It robs of us of our history and confines the talent of many people to the digital void.  The only evidence that they ever existed being tantalizing links that lead to nowhere. 

Maybe you think that the internet works best at a living AND dying entity.  Even if that is the case, you should consider what you do with your own content.  It belongs to you.  Don’t let other companies or “incidents” decides its fate.  Choose your platforms wisely to ensure that you are in control. “

Infrequent writing is not a reason to put your content at risk or inconvenience countless others who are apt go to deadlinks when your content is deleted of the url structure is changed by the third party storing your content. Let alone the personal impact on you as your influence, measured in part by your writings, is reduced when content is deleted and the url structure changes.

Compared to ten years ago, the costs of publishing to a platform that provides you control and long term archival are minimal. And beyond just storage and control, to a software language that is open and ubiquitous so that your content is effectively portable at a minimal cost – think WordPress. 

Each of us are sharing insight and ideas that are looked as valuable by those in the legal industry and beyond, perhaps more valuable than we think. Treat your insight and commentary with the respect it deserves.