Permanence means understanding that when you put something on the Web it should be there for ever: ideally in the same place for perpetuity. It means that if I link to it now, someone else can follow that link in two days, two weeks or two years’ time. (I’m not going to lay out the business models in this piece, but I’m not excluding the possibility of pay-to-view; it’s the position that counts, not the price.)
This is an alien concept to many people in the news industry, which creates work designed to appear in a particular place at a particular time. But permanence is critical to understanding the real challenges and potential for online publishing.
The Web is the first medium where the publisher can put something in a place that it can be found forever. Other media can provide immediacy, and to varying degrees, some level of interactivity. But no other medium can be permanent in the same way as the Web (other media depend entirely on the consumer to archive: something completely different).
All of which is why “search” is something that occupies all my waking moments.