A few months ago I wrote about how most current digital content, including blogs, probably won’t be readable in 100 years. Quite a few commenters said they really just want to make a paper copy of their entire blog, but there’s no easy way to do that.
So, a few weeks ago I created a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to print your entire blog. It’s called Print My Blog, and is available for free download from WordPress.org. After installing it, it’s just 2 clicks to create a paper or PDF copy of your entire blog. It also avoids printing ink-guzzlers, like your site’s header image, menus, or sidebar widgets. It just prints your blog’s content, the stuff you’d want to read.
What’s the Big Idea?
Preserve what you’ve published. It’s great that you have a blog or website, it allows your voice to be heard throughout the world… so long as your blog is still online. And once you’re gone, so is your blog. So how will future generations know what you said, or even that your blog ever existed?
The question of how you preserve your blog’s content after your blog is gone is a tough one. But since antiquity they’ve had a pretty good solution: keep a good old, physical copy. Paper.
A paper copy can survive in situations your digital blog won’t. You can still read it when: you stop paying hosting bills, or you’re disconnected from the Internet, or your website’s software becomes several decades old, or your hard drive gets corrupted. It may get a little worn, but it’s available and readable.
And although paper isn’t totally future-proof (it can get wet, or burned, or lost), keeping a paper copy of your blog will help preserve it.
Why Else Would I Want to Print My Blog?
There are a few other situations printing your entire blog is useful:
- some people just prefer to read on paper
- going on a trip? Print an entire blog to paper, or PDF and save to your phone, so you can read it while you’re disconnected
- If you’re shutting down a website or blog, make a PDF copy of it and share it on DropBox or Google Drive.
- Lastly, create a slideshow presentation using your website, and create a PDF you can present and upload to SlideShare
- Works with hundreds of posts (largest blog so far had over 500 posts with images and produced a PDF over 400MB)
- Works with WordPress posts (ordered by date) or pages (ordered hierarchically)
- uses your theme’s stylesheet, but doesn’t show your theme’s header, sidebar widgets, or footer
- resize text and images (or remove images altogether)
- put text into columns to give it a newspaper-like look
- show posts’s categories and featured images
In-the-works or planned:
- content selection: just print posts in a date range or category
- web service, so WordPress.com users can print their blog for free without even needing to install the plugin (this is partially done, contact me if you’d like to try it out early)
- replace internal HTML hyperlinks with page references in printouts
- replace external HTML hyperlinks with footnotes
- add a table of contents to the top (with links to actual page numbers of posts)
- whatever other good ideas get suggested
How You Can Help
The point is this: make it as easy as possible to make a paper or PDF copy of your blog, so future generations can benefit from it.
I’m currently doing this as a public service, and would appreciate your help. Here’s what you can do:
- Try it. Let me know how you’re using it, what difficulties you had, and what you’d like to see in the future (on GitHub or the WordPress support forum).
- Share It. If it saved you time and you think it’s useful, tell your friends and leave a plugin review
- Translate It. You can help make it usable by non-English speakers.
Let’s preserve your blog for future generations!