The British Library's plan to archive billions of web pages to 'preserve the digital memory of the nation', has some interesting implications for the 'reputation management' industry.
From tomorrow (April 6th, 2013), the automatic 'harvesting' of billions of pages from the UK's estimated 4.8 million websites means that soon, anyone will be able to access information that may normally have disappeared into the internet's 'black hole', including content that was previously behind a 'pay wall'.
To archive will be available at the British Library in London or one of the other five participating 'legal deposit' libraries: the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, Oxford University's Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library and Trinity College Library Dublin.
What makes this significant is the fact that unlike the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive - which has indexed more than 240 billion pages - people will have to physically go into one of the libraries.
So, what does this quest to 'save the nation's digital memory' mean for Reputation Managers and their clients?
I have a sneaking suspicion that we may potentially have to work just that little bit harder to ensure that the positive information we generate on behalf of clients overwhelms incorrect, hostile and negative content, which will soon be preserved for eternity outside cyberspace.
Until we get a better picture, it'll be business as usual: ensuring that clients 'own' the first few pages in search engine results.
On a wider point, we all have to consider 'living more defensively' in the internet age.
Despite the existence of a 'black hole' where some information falls through the cracks. there's always the risk that information some want to keep secret may suddenly pop up on Facebook or Twitter.
With the internet's insatiable thirst for content, suspiciously flexible social media 'privacy' controls and a swarm of indiscreet surfers, there is no place to run or hide on the web.
There's an excellent article by Dr Layla McCay on Huffington Post which goes into some depth.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.