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Re: "Digital Dark Age"



On Tue, 9 Feb 1999, Joyce Jenkins wrote:
> There is a thought provoking article in the Feb. 1, 1999 Library Journal
> on page 46, "Escaping the digital dark age" by Stewart Brand (yes, the
> very Stewart Brand of Whole Earth Catalog fame).  He quotes supercomputer
> designer Danny Hillis as saying "thousands of years ago we recorded
> important matters on clay and stone that lasted thousands of years.
> Hundreds of years ago we  used parchment that lasted hundreds of years."
> Today, he says, we have masses of data in formats that we know will not
> last as long as our life times.  "Digital storage is easy; digital
> preservation is not."

For several years I and many others have been working on "The Dead Media
Project" which addresses this very issue.  Write <kadrey@well.com> for
information.  Dead media from thousands of years ago to today point to the
folly of beliving any media is built to last on the scale needed.  The
prime example is this: the half-life (much less the 'full' life) of sites
around the world contaminated by radioactivity is thousands of years...
how can we post warnings that will last that long?  Not even religions,
the most basic human organization system, have demonstrated an ability to
last that long unchanged.  The DMP is a fun and low traffic list,
recommended to long-term thinkers and gadgetteers (lots of great weird old
media!).

- Trevor

Telephone: +503-236-2364
Fax: +503-232-0664

--
Trevor Blake     http://www.jwhirler.com/
J. Whirler Used and Rare Children's Books
P. O. Box 2321 Portland OR 97208-2321 USA


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