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Re: "Digital Dark Age"
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU
- Subject: Re: "Digital Dark Age"
- From: David Macfarlane <dmac@BWAY.NET>
- Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 16:26:43 -0500
- Message-Id: <199902122137.NAA16904@palimpsest.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
I really can't help but jump in here. Mr. Fletcher is making the logic
that because something is possible it will be happening. Just because it
may be possible to understand 386 technology doesn't mean it will be
I, myself, fully understand punch card technology. But if you gave me a
stack of punched cards, I would find it nearly impossible to extract the
information from them in any cost effective way. I also have in my
library the exact specifications of 9 track magnetic tape. And I have
in my storage a box of magnetic tapes with the source code of Unix
version 5 on them. Do you think I can extract that information in any
useful way today? Offhand, I know of NO PRACICAL WAY that I can read
to recover that information, even though I have the knowledge and there
may exist somewhere the technology.
Technologies change; old technologies pass away. How many people can
read the data kept on a 5 1/4 floppy disk I have here? You would need
a computer with a 5 1/4 drive, and you would need the right software
to understanding the formatting codes, etc. No matter how pervasive that
5 1/4 floppy disk technology was in the past, it has been replaced
by newer technology. As a consequence, the old technology is effectively
unavailable to us, and therefore the data kept in that technology is
This is a serious problem. To ignore it, or to try to say it doesn't
exist, is shortsighted and historically unsound. There won't always
be punched cards. There won' always be 9 track tapes. And there
won't always be 386-architecture PCs that can read today's particular
kind of removable CD-ROM media.
Here's another, bigger, problem: what about language? Pick up a copy of
Chaucer and see how easy it is to read something from a few hundred
ago. Now try to imagine how to put up a sign that says "Keep out -
active waste stored here" that will last for 100,000 years.
DT Fletcher wrote:
> Your error in logic is in the false assumption that because technologies "DO"
> disapear that then any and all technologies "MUST" disapear. Nothing could be
> further from the truth. Many technologies have not only never dispeared they
> have been only improved upon and expanded since their invention.
> The only assumption that I am making is that the civilization in the far
> future will be at least as technologically advanced as we are today. If that
> is true, then there is no question that they will be fully capable of
> understanding and using the core IBM clong 386 core computer technology of
> dt fletcher