The Toaster explodes

Baseball Toaster — home to many a fine blog such as Cardboard Gods, Dodger Thoughts, and the Griddle — has ceased to be:

If you’ve been paying attention lately, you’ve noticed that Baseball Toaster has had a bunch of its knobs and switches and dials and wires fall off in recent months. Today, with the largest part of our engine leaving to join the Los Angeles Times, we are officially sending the Toaster to the scrap heap.

We’ll leave the casing intact–the archives for the blogs that are not being redirected elsewhere will remain online here indefinitely. But after tomorrow, we will cease publishing new blog entries. A few days after that, we will close up comments. The Toaster will then be left here, frozen in time, a snapshot of an era that has passed, until it one day finally rusts away.

There is some good news in all of this. For one thing, in the course of all of this weirdness, Jon Weisman’s Dodger Thoughts has adopted the Good Doctor’s advice and has turned pro. I think Jon himself puts it best when he says “Blogs have come a long way in the past seven years, from being something that nearly no one had heard of, to being a dirty word, to slowly being considered part of the solution rather than part of the problem.” There are problems with the L.A. Times’ baseball coverage, and Weisman is a great first step towards fixing them.

There is also sadness, in that Bob Timmerman has decided to end his always entertaining and often weird Griddle blog. Bob is tall and hates Ohio, but he’s good people, so it will be sad to see him go. The Toaster’s Master of Ceremonies Ken Arneson is also hanging it up, as is Cubs Town’s Derek Smart. No more Score Bard, either, though I’m guessing he’ll still show up over at Think Factory from time to time.

Many of the other Toaster blogs will continue, just at different locations (details here). ShysterBall readers will be most interested in the fate of Cardboard Gods. Thankfully, Josh has picked up right where he left off, with a particularly poignant post about beginnings and endings and blogs and all of the stuff we love him for. It’s funny: you read a handful of Josh’s posts and you’re ready to call the suicide hotline for him, but when you sit back and think about his entire body of work, you realize that he’s far more of a survivor than any of the rest of us are. He’s going to probably be the last one left to turn out the lights when baseball blogging goes the way of stereoscopes and nickelodeons.

Anyway, when beer-thirty rolls around your neck of the woods this afternoon (or morning), be sure to pour some on the ground for the Toaster. Good stuff happened there, and it always, always looked great.

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  1. Grant said...

    Rather than letting it rust they should contact some archivists and see if they can’t get the site added to an archival collection. Many archivists today are keenly aware of the need to collect “born digital” online materials, and issues of copyright and other permissions often stymie them. Perhaps some university or non-profit repository with a collecting interest in baseball would be willing to take on the Toaster material? I know it’d be too much to ask the Hall of Fame to be with the program, but I bet some archivist at a smaller and more flexible place would be receptive.

  2. Grant said...

    That site, The Internet Archive, uses a series of webcrawlers to archive the entirety of the internet, at least those parts it gets to before they disappear, those that aren’t running scripts that turn crawlers away (The New York Times, for example, has no interest in letting other people take its content), and sites whose owners don’t opt out of being crawled. It has two major problems. The first is technical. It captures the source code for a site but not its technological context. Thus, if you go back to sites from the late 90s in, say, Firefox, you’ll find that many of them don’t load properly. Secondly, it’s essentially a large-scale copyright violation. Thus the opt-out clause. What I’m suggesting for The Toaster is a more sophisticated mutual agreement to document the world of an entire website with proper technical concerns taken care of in perpetuity. That’s really the future of digital archiving, at least as it stands in the literature right now.

  3. Ken Arneson said...

    I’ll just point out that when I wrote the archives would “remain online here indefinitely” I kinda meant “until I die or go broke.”

    I cannot predict how long it will take for me to reach either of those goals.

    I suppose the idea of giving others the right to archive the material under certain conditions (say, if I die or go broke) is a good one.  Is there some sort of Creative Commons license for that circumstance?

  4. Grant said...

    I must admit that my knowledge of specifics is somewhat limited. One archives management class only goes so far. I suppose you could get in touch with someone involved with Creative Commons. If you plan on keeping it up there’s not as much urgency, but of course an archivist is thinking about centuries in the future, not one human lifespan. And technology does have a way of outstripping itself rather quickly these days.

    Brief research on Creative Commons tells me that it’s a kind of selective waiving of copyright. If you were going to deposit your material with some archive or another you’d probably have to enter into a specific agreement with those people. That said, Creative Commons might be able to get you started. I dunno. Maybe my comments weren’t as helpful as I hoped after all.

  5. Will said...

    I am weeping into my beer over here.  Bad Altitude, while very pessimistic, had the best and most engaging writing about my beloved Rockies.  The Griddle and Dodger Thoughts were always fascinating, and had brilliant comment threads.

    I will miss the Toaster very, very much.

    On the other hand, thanks to Bob the Cleveland-hater’s last post, I now know of this site.

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