Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Archives, Computers And The End of Histroy

Solzhenitsyn is one of the last major writers to leave behind a vast archives of handwritten manuscripts. (His successors will bequeath their hard drives if they dare.)

David Remnick,
 In the Archives: the Widow's Peak,
The New Yorker, June 18, 2012

Computers make it easy to duplicate, manipulate, search, relocate information. At the same time it makes it easier lose stuff down the memory hole either by action, inaction, error, or mechanical failure. But any simple filing cabinet has a solidity that makes it hard to chuck out the window. I have came across several different predictions about our future data storage needs from sci-fi witters and/or futurists.  There is the scenario that we must eventually need to go space so we can find new places to store our records. In Raj Whitehall's world everything was in computer databanks, when computers failed. So all records, history, knowledge is lost. I have read other futurists that suggest this is the likely outcome and that future history will note a "dark age" where there are scattered and fragmentary records in proprietary obsolete formats.

Computers are great for ephemera, but there needs to be hard copies for posterity.

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