GRIMT3CH Technology, Geekery, & General Nerdiness

3Feb/100

Interesting New Scientist Article – Digital doomsday: the end of knowledge

Societies come and go over time and with them their history and people.  Ancient societies recorded their history in rock preserving the language and leaving a glimpse into their story for a millennia.  With the advent of paper and printing press books became the standard lasting for centuries.  With the advent of the digital age we have become dependent on magnetic and flash based media to contain ours hopefully lasting a decade.

Perhaps the most crucial loss will occur after half a century or so, as any surviving engineers, scientists and doctors start to succumb to old age. Their skills and know-how would make a huge difference when it comes to finding important information and getting key machinery working again. The NASA tape drives, for instance, were restored with the help of a retired engineer who had worked on similar systems. Without expert help like this, retrieving data from the tapes would have taken a lot longer, Cowing says.

A century or so after a major catastrophe, little of the digital age will remain beyond what's written on paper. "Even the worst kind of paper can last more than 100 years," says Season Tse, who works on paper conservation at the Canadian Conservation Institute. The oldest surviving "book" printed on paper dates from AD 868, he says. It was found in a cave in north-west China in 1907.

It will be interesting to see what types of initiatives will be taken to preserve our societies history, into the uncertain future...

[Via NewScientist]

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