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We're In Danger of Losing Our Memories

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the black-hole-of-history dept.

The Internet 398

Hugh Pickens writes "The chief executive of the British Library, Lynne Brindley, says that our cultural heritage is at risk as the Internet evolves and technologies become obsolete, and that historians and citizens face a 'black hole' in the knowledge base of the 21st century unless urgent action is taken to preserve websites and other digital records. For example, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president last week, all traces of George W. Bush disappeared from the White House website. There were more than 150 websites relating to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that vanished instantly at the end of the games and are now stored only by the National Library of Australia. 'If websites continue to disappear in the same way as those on President Bush and the Sydney Olympics... the memory of the nation disappears too,' says Brindley. The library plans to create a comprehensive archive of material from the 8M .uk domain websites, and also is organizing a collecting and archiving project for the London 2012 Olympics. 'The task of capturing our online intellectual heritage and preserving it for the long term falls, quite rightly, to the same libraries and archives that have over centuries systematically collected books, periodicals, newspapers, and recordings...'" Over the years we've discussed various aspects of this archiving problem.

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FP (2, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617113)

First po

Wait, what were we talking abo

First Post!

Re:FP (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617331)

I bet you also forgot that Smithers was black. [23b.org]

The niche folks must continue to ensure that minutiae are not forgotten, for those who control the past control the future. Attention span is directly proportional to richness of memory. For fuck's sake, everybody read 1984!

Re:FP (3, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617427)

Don't worry. After this civilization is destroyed, the only thing of value that will remain intact is Simpsons DVDs. A new civilization will be rebuilt from these remnants, and we'll populate an entire planet for each episode. On some of those planets, Smithers will be black.

Re:FP (5, Funny)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617471)

I bet you also forgot that Smithers was black. [23b.org]

So was Michael Jackson at some point, no one cares.

"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (5, Funny)

Caboosian (1096069) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617123)

and nothing of value was lost.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617163)

How much you wanna bet the above post gets a +5 insightful whereas a similar post about Clinton (or god help us, Obama) would get -1 troll?

And yeah, I'll get modded down for pointing this out, but what do I care? Karma: Excellent. I just hope whoever opts to throw a -1 offtopic my way also takes a serious look at the parent. And no, I'm not posting this as AC either.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (-1, Flamebait)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617213)

Because George Bush managed to fuck up the great economy Clinton left him with--because Obama is a visionary and has a fantastic platform. I don't understand your point.
If you disagree that Bush is a worse president than Clinton was or Obama will be, then it is probably wiser to keep your mouth shut and let the world think you are intelligent rather than removing all doubt.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (5, Insightful)

Khaed (544779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617235)

People who don't like Bush -- ESPECIALLY people who don't like Bush -- should want all record of him preserved.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (4, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617425)

Don't worry; his record isn't disappearing anytime soon. There are no media compatibility issues with gravestones and they offer excellent document retention.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (1)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617237)

That great economy was already plummeting before Bush took office...btw.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (3, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617449)

No, it wasn't plummeting. One aspect of it (dotcoms, etc) simply went through a correction. It took a lot more than that for the economy to get to the state it is in now.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617549)

It took a lot more than that for the economy to get to the state it is in now.

Yeah, it took 20 years of policy that Bill Clinton and the Democrats happily went along with......

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (5, Informative)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617739)

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "Using the stock market as an unofficial benchmark, a recession would have begun in March 2000 when the NASDAQ crashed following the collapse of the Dot-com bubble. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was relatively unscathed by the NASDAQ's crash until the September 11, 2001 attacks, after which the DJIA suffered its worst one-day point loss and biggest one-week losses in history up to that point."

Also NBER President Martin Feldstein said in 2004:

"It is clear that the revised data have made our original March [2001] date for the start of the recession much too late. We are still waiting for additional monthly data before making a final judgment. Until we have the additional data, we cannot make a decision."

Interesting way of saying "we are clearly wrong, but we aren't going to commit to it".

And Finally, how could someone who hadn't by March even passed his economic policy until June of that year.

Interesting further quote from the article on his economic policy [wikipedia.org] Bush inherited a faltering economy from Clinton, the economy having grown only at a 1.1% annualized rate over the previous three quarters from March 31 of the first year of Bush presidency [15](see Early 2000s recession). Bush had his tax cut plan approved by Congress in June, proposed early as a response to the economic decline and, despite the aftermath of the 2001 9/11 attacks, managed to keep the country out of recession[neutrality disputed] (defined as two consecutive quarters of decline in the size of the economy) during the time he and his economic policies were assuming more control over the economy.

I may not like the man as president, but I refuse to make him the magic bullet for all the problems with this country.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (2, Informative)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617253)

Because George Bush managed to fuck up the great economy Clinton left him with

You do recall the dot-com crash in 2000, right? Bush wasn't in office until 2001.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617293)

You do recall the dot-com crash in 2000, right? Bush wasn't in office until 2001.a

It's still his fault. We KNEW he would be elected. That alone crashed the dot-com bubble.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617339)

We KNEW he would be elected

Well, yeah we knew he was gonna get elected. Al Gore ran the shittiest campaign I've ever seen in my voting lifetime -- at least until John Kerry ran four years later. And before anybody starts whining about Florida let me just respond with one word: Tennessee.

Gore lost his own fucking state. If he hadn't managed to do that then Florida would have been a big fat moot point, Kathrine Harris just would have been another ugly chick with too much makeup and nobody would give a damn what Michael Moore thinks. Hell, maybe they could have gotten together and had a love child.

Of course the downside is we wouldn't have gotten to see a good Kevin Spacey movie ;)

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617379)

Bubble burst != crash.

Tech stocks took a dive, the economy wasn't up to par, but it's not suffering PTSD after being violently beaten up by greedy assholes.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617455)

but it's not suffering PTSD after being violently beaten up by greedy assholes.

So in which administration do you think passed a lot of the deregulation that enabled those 'greedy assholes'? Which administration passed the Telecommunications Act, the Communications Decency Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act?

Eventually the wet for Obama crowd is going to wake up and realize that the Democrats are just as big of a threat to our way of life as the Republicans are. Of course by the time that happens everybody will have forgotten about how badly the GOP fucked up and we'll start the whole cycle over again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (5, Insightful)

NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617787)

You're seriously comparing the CDA and the DMCA to the likes of the Iraq War, badly handling Katrina, and staffing every position with hacks and cronies? Repubs are demonstrably worse for our country.

I don't buy this "Oh, they're all bad, Dems are just as bad" meme. It's just not factually true.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617849)

No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.

-- Gideon Tucker

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617259)

Because George Bush managed to fuck up the great economy Clinton left him with

And even if people accept that premise that relates to biased moderations in what way exactly?

because Obama is a visionary and has a fantastic platform

Get back to me in four years before you start spouting about fantastic his platform is. I'm rooting for his success (because we can't afford for him to fail) but I'm not going to call it a "fantastic platform" six days into his administration and I'm growing weary of the worship that surrounds him. And this is coming from someone who campaigned for him.

If you disagree that Bush is a worse president than Clinton was or Obama will be, then it is probably wiser to keep your mouth shut and let the world think you are intelligent rather than removing all doubt.

Translation: If you disagree with me then it is probably wiser to keep your mouth shut, lest I be exposed to competing points of view that might tax my brain and force me to actually think.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (2, Funny)

bagboy (630125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617307)

Statements like yours really shows YOUR ignorance. Whether you are Repub/Demo Bush/Obama makes no difference. The office of President alone cannot control the economy of the Federal Governement. And certainly has no control over where you choose to bank, etc.... Civics 101 - There's Congress, the Senate and the Executive branch - and oh yeah, the Judicial who judges those items that overstep their bounds. And guess what? There are both dems/repubs in all of the above.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617509)

The government might not be directly controlling the market, but it has a great deal of influence. Even small things have an impact. For example, the optimism of the Clinton years encouraged new thinking and entrepreneurship. The pessimism, fear and war of the Bush years encouraged retreat and downsizing. Also, the rest of the world didn't like what Bush was doing, and the dollar plummets. I also wouldn't be surprised if the massive corruption of the Bush government encouraged corruption within corporations. When the "leader" does something, it tends to legitimize it for others. hell, Bush's government was directly involved with corporate corruption - see Halliburton's contracts, and the phone companies participating in wiretapping programs.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (0, Troll)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617429)

How much you wanna bet the above post gets a +5 insightful whereas a similar post about Clinton (or god help us, Obama) would get -1 troll?

Indeed.

In that same vein, I'm wondering how badly "troll" or "offtopic" I'll get modded for this comment:

Somehow I find it rather satisfying that the technology "black hole" means that, very likely, the last President on "permanent record" will be Ronald Reagan.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (0, Offtopic)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617501)

I dunno how I feel about Reagan. Wasn't really old enough when he was POTUS. I do know that all of the incessant hero worship of him turns me off. It just doesn't seem to be keeping in with our Republican (no, not the party) virtues and by all accounts is not what Reagan himself would have wanted.

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (0, Offtopic)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617477)

So, it seems from your current moderation, and that of the grandparent post, you've been proven wrong.

Will you admit your mistake, or is it deja vu all over again?

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (0, Offtopic)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617525)

Let's see where it's at in a few days before we form any opinions. Besides, what mistake? All I said was "how much you wanna bet" ;) I guess it's a good thing I didn't bet the life savings :P

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617493)

And since the predictions you made were COMPLETELY backwards - you've got a 4 Insightful and the one you said was going to be +5 is down at 0 Flamebait - what does that say about your theory?

It says hypothesis disproved. Why do you want to be persecuted so badly?

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (0, Offtopic)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617533)

Why do you want to be persecuted so badly?

Maybe it's my Native American/Jewish/Polish blood? ;) Yeah, I'm a mutt of oppressed races. Of course I've got some German in me too so that kind of makes up for a bit ;)

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (2, Funny)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617271)

Um....personally I want every detail of the Bush administration recorded in history books... ....under a section titled, "Never, ever, do this again."

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (1, Troll)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617363)

Um....personally I want every detail of the Bush administration recorded in history books... ....under a section titled, "Never, ever, do this again."

Step 1. Never elect the child of a former President.
Step 2. ???
Step 3. Pay off the National Debt!!!

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (1)

cudjo (1140139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617401)

9/11, two poorly planned wars, a wrecked economy, the world in crisis, constitution in shambles... Forget adding the last eight years to the list. Make it the number one priority. "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

Re:"All traces of George W. Bush disappeared" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617741)

I was going to say, Alright, now what's the bad news?

Just do it. (4, Informative)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617125)

Archive.org has been doing this forever. Why is it taking other folks so long to do the same?

Re:Just do it. (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617139)

Why does anybody else need to do it? Just make sure your site is on archive.org before you update it.....

Re:Just do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617179)

Redundancy and variety. Archive.org may not be willing to archive important sites (such as pr0n), and it only has a single mirror.

Re:Just do it. (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617469)

Archive.org may not be willing to archive important sites (such as pr0n), and it only has a single mirror.

Don't worry I'm working on archiving all that porn locally. Eventually I'll combine every single file into one giant torrent and upload at least 99.9% of it before dropping offline ;)

Re:Just do it. (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617649)

Archive.org may not be willing to archive important sites (such as pr0n), and it only has a single mirror.

Don't worry I'm working on archiving all that porn locally. Eventually I'll combine every single file into one giant torrent and upload at least 99.9% of it before dropping offline ;)

You sir are a great humanitarian.

Re:Just do it. (2, Funny)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617161)

Lexus Nexus' entire existence is based on this shit too, but includes print media etc. You have no idea what they're capable of; they can take a name and an event and tell you if another person with the same name at another event (no pictures, no other linkage) is the same person, their data analysis algorithms make really good associations on analog information.

Re:Just do it. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617189)

You have no idea what they're capable of

Actually any of us who have had the misfortune of having to fight with the bastards over inaccuracies in our files (not quite credit reports because the arrogant SOBs claim the fair credit reporting act doesn't apply to them) know exactly what they are capable of.

Apparently I was dead. To prove I wasn't dead the drone on the phone from India wanted a copy of my death certificate. The American drones weren't much better. What they added in competence (they never asked for a death certificate) they made up for in sheer arrogance (the aforementioned we are above the law act)

Internet Archive and Wayback Machine (2, Informative)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617841)

Bandwidth, disk space, servers required, I suppose. The Wayback Machine alone has 85 billion pages, occupying 2 PB, growing at 20TB/month.

Anyone knows how many LoCs is that?

We know... (2, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617141)

The Internet archive [archive.org] is (or was) meant to help ease this problem.

We also have sites like Furl [furl.net] that allow users to save a page for later.

The Google cache retains the contents of a site for a short time (that is, if it doesn't include noarchive tags)

Visitors to a site always have the option of saving a copy.

The issue isn't necessarily that copies don't exist, it's that there's no structured way that will ensure some copy of everything gets saved.

And when individuals "save" a copy of a website, there's no way that they make their saved copy available for historians to look at later.

The problem of personal archiving, declaring certain archives public, and making such snippets available has not been generally solved.

who needs archive.org for the white house? (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617217)

The National Archives has versions up of all the Clinton White House pages. Here's one [nara.gov] . I'm sure they'll get around to doing the same for Bush eventually. I seriously doubt the Obama team came in and pulled an 'rm -rf' on the old webpage.....

Re:who needs archive.org for the white house? (5, Insightful)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617369)

The National Archives has versions up of all the Clinton White House pages. Here's one [nara.gov]. I'm sure they'll get around to doing the same for Bush eventually.

They're already ahead of you.

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/ [archives.gov]

Re:who needs archive.org for the white house? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617411)

So where's the archived version of Washington's webpage?

Re:who needs archive.org for the white house? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617483)

So where's the archived version of Washington's webpage?

The archival parchments were destroyed when the Canadians burned the White House. Not to mention the flappy-headed bastards killed Kenny too.

Re:who needs archive.org for the white house? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617599)

Not to mention the flappy-headed bastards killed Kenny too

Don't even get me started on the war crime that was the Baldwin brothers massacre ;)

Will the Canadian-American war memorial consist of a hockey arena?

Re:who needs archive.org for the white house? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617679)

I'm sure they'll get around to doing the same for Bush eventually. I seriously doubt the Obama team came in and pulled an 'rm -rf' on the old webpage.....

That's not the point of the article... it's that it might only be archived in one repository, and that might not be enough.

Don't worry. Google never forgets. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617143)

That's all I can say about that.

interesting idea (4, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617149)

Re:interesting idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617269)

Robots.txt Query Exclusion.

Re:interesting idea (2, Funny)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617299)

Yeah, but who's archiving archive.org???

They say they never forget, but... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617389)

> Yeah, but who's archiving archive.org???

The turtles, of course. It's turtles all the way down.

Re:interesting idea (2, Funny)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617607)

I'm not sure, should that be "Quis archiviet ipsos archivides?"

Re:interesting idea (1)

pnevin (168332) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617667)

Coastguard

Re:interesting idea (1)

xPsi (851544) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617433)

Archive.org is a good idea, but may be causing complacency. The problem is simple: a) they don't keep everything, and b) a lot of people seem to believe they do. That's an archival train wreck waiting to happen. They dynamically change the archive time window even for single sites, and even completely eliminate sites without notice. Besides, long after a site has been archived, a new system admin can block all archive requests (essentially forcing the removal of all archived versions of a site as if it didn't ever exist).

just forget it! (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617671)

Most the web can just be forgotten. its junk.

Bush and the Olympics have official archives that may even be in print-- although Bush's is lacking bunches of "lost" information that wouldn't have gotten on the website anyhow.

WORTHY information should be archived just as before; possible to even print it to paper should we knock ourselves backwards technologically (hey, I'm being positive and hoping somebody survives besides the insects.)

Do we need to remember Obama girl? There is more than enough mainstream coverage of that being archived already...

tv, radio, newspaper, official documents, memoirs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617157)

How was history possible before email and the internet?

Re:tv, radio, newspaper, official documents, memoi (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617713)

Exactly, the idea that there will be LESS information surviving from our current torrent (hehe) of data is simply stupid. The fact is we have a limited view of history in the form of first person accounts because it was so expensive (both in terms of time and resources) to create a personal account of an event. Today we have say 10M blog entries about Obama's inauguration. Even if 1/10th of 1% of those are preserved that means we still have 10K accounts, how many surviving accounts of say FDR's inauguration do we have? My father has a handful of 8mm films from his childhood, my wife has boxes of VHS tapes and my kids will have hundreds of gigs of photos and movies of their childhood, each generation has more chances to save significant amounts of data because storing it is ever cheaper.

Like the Copyright Black Hole? (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617167)

Well, for starters, I keep my memories in my head.. but if you're talking about records and history then I think copyright is a bigger culprit than digitization any day. Most of the culture of the 20th century is unavailable because the copyright holders have carte blanche to suppress it so it doesn't compete with their latest offerings.

Re:Like the Copyright Black Hole? (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617459)

Mod this up to +11. It's insane how much material has to be archived illegally to keep it intact. Case in point: When Legacy Engineering developed the Atari Flashback 2 for the modern Atari, they had to pull all the ROMs, documents, schematics, and everything else from their own archives. Atari had absolutely none of it.

Similarly, all kinds of software is being lost due to the draconian copyright laws. In fact, two of the titles I remember from my childhood (a Q-Bert ripoff with ice cubes and a lunar lander clone that gained you fuel from answering math problems) are, as far as I can tell, simply lost to history. No one has even documented their existence, much less made a backup for posterity!

Unfortunately, the problem is only getting worse. Movies, television, software, digital texts, and other forms of useful information and cultural entertainment are being lost to time permanently. All because these items fall out of circulation and copyright law prevents enough copies from being kept around to prevent their untimely demise.

That being said, I do realize that not everything can be kept. Hell, I know more than enough historians wish we had even simple documents like tax assessments and census results from the ancient world. Even seemingly stupid stuff like that can be incredibly useful. Never the less, some of this information is simply going to be lost in time. But let's at least make an effort to preserve the works that define our history and culture. You never know. 2000 years from now our descendants may want to piece together what happened to us. ;-)

Re:Like the Copyright Black Hole? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617669)

And, nothing of value was lost.

Re:Like the Copyright Black Hole? (3, Interesting)

trawg (308495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617777)

Unfortunately, the problem is only getting worse. Movies, television, software, digital texts, and other forms of useful information and cultural entertainment are being lost to time permanently. All because these items fall out of circulation and copyright law prevents enough copies from being kept around to prevent their untimely demise.

I've often thought that'd be a good extension to copyright law. As soon as something stops being available for sale (or maybe after some reasonable time, like a couple months), then it should enter the public domain.

If companies want to keep owning the rights to something, they should have to demonstrate they're prepared to make it available commercially so people can actually buy it. Otherwise people that want it will be forced to become criminals to get their hands on it (or, obviously, do without).

Re:Like the Copyright Black Hole? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617879)

Most of the culture of the 20th century is unavailable because the copyright holders have carte blanche to suppress it so it doesn't compete with their latest offerings.

Hardly. The right of first sale is a quick end to your carte blanche.

Two words (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617187)

Google - - archives

News? (1)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617195)

So, libraries have been charged with archiving web-sites... and? Libraries have been around for the introduction of newspapers, magazines, audio and video recording.

Someone, quick, post something insightful that will make me care about the centuries old story that libraries will archive whatever new medium comes along. This is even worse than the stories about how people break up over facebook. I mean, did Victorian newspapers run stories about how people would send "Dear John" letters by their new, fancy, twice-a-day postal service?

Re:News? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617233)

Someone, quick, post something insightful that will make me care about the centuries old story that libraries will archive whatever new medium comes along.

It certainly helps one's case when debating whether we were misinformed about circumstances in pre-war Iraq if we have an archive of materials to cite.

Re:News? (2, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617505)

I mean, did Victorian newspapers run stories about how people would send "Dear John" letters by their new, fancy, twice-a-day postal service?

Pretty much. A Novel in Nine Letters [wikipedia.org] , one of Dostoyevski's famous shorter works, used the newly established postal service as a framing device.

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy that hinges on the lack of reliable postal services. A courier is late arriving with a note for Romeo, so he never finds out that Juliet has merely faked her own death.

Some of the stock humour in the Italian Commedia dell'Arte hinges on letters getting mis-delivered.

In short: Yes, we are defined by our communications capacity, and that's been a subject of commentary for as long as we've been keeping records.

That more or less makes your point - but to conclude that it's no longer topical because we've been talking about it for a while... I can't agree with you there.

It's been on my mind (1)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617205)

For some reason this topic has been on my mind lately. It's so true that paper is about the best way to preserve information. I hope a few libraries are printing out all the good stuff. But what about all the stuff that is going video now? Kinda freaky. And then again, what about all the TV and movie stock over all the decades that will be lost? Some of that stuff is really good... kinda worrisome isn't it? I mean, past human civilization isn't the most important thing ever. But some of it is pretty cool. And for nothing else, our offspring need to know a little history so they don't get stepped on by the rich and annoying.

Re:It's been on my mind (2, Interesting)

mrbene (1380531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617517)

Well, paper was good, as long as we're talking long fibers for paper. As we've moved to shorter fibers via more destructive pulping, the potential life [loc.gov] of paper has been reduced.

One could argue that was a good thing... (0, Troll)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617225)

For example, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president last week, all traces of George W. Bush disappeared from the White House website.

One could argue that was a good thing...

Re:One could argue that was a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617353)

For example, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president last week, all traces of George W. Bush disappeared from the White House website.

No one has yet detected the Worm Bush implanted therein...

Well (1)

Drumforyourlife (1421647) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617231)

This is a very expensive undertaking. To archive all of the photos and videos alone would require massive disk space. Add to that the filtering of silly comments that are completely off-topic and you have one heck of a job. I'm glad someone's doing it, but does it have to be that detailed? we have far more data in our age than any other time in history.

It's been happening since tike in memorial... (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617251)

Who can tell me where I come from? I have blood from all continents except Australia. But I would love to really know where I really come from.

Unlike other so called un-developed countries that have an unwritten code on how offspring are named, we have nothing of the sort. In these societies a similar surname automatically has meaning beyond just a simple relationship. It helps.

You find one Smith from Australia with no relationship to the Smith in Wales, who in turn has no relationship to the Smith in Zimbabwe. It's pathetic. So forgetting information has been going on for centuries folks. I wish I could reverse that.

Re:It's been happening since tike in memorial... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617323)

I was hoping someone else would explain this to you... but when a man loves a woman, well, sometimes they do a special mommy and daddy dance, and then a little fairy sprinkles some dust, and you were created.

Re:It's been happening since tike in memorial... (3, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617555)

You find one Smith from Australia with no relationship to the Smith in Wales, who in turn has no relationship to the Smith in Zimbabwe.

That's because one was a blacksmith, another a silversmith, the third a pewtersmith.

Re:It's been happening since tike in memorial... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617707)

So forgetting information has been going on for centuries folks. I wish I could reverse that.

I think you'll regret that wish, when every person who has ever lived rise from their graves looking for brains.

Ah yes, kdawson... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617317)

...As always you managed to slip in the obligatory reference to your beloved Australia.

Re:Ah yes, kdawson... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617573)

...As always you managed to slip in the obligatory reference to your beloved Australia.

...

Everybruce: Australia, Australia, Australia, Australia, we love you amen!

Fourth Bruce:Bruce: Crack tube! (Sound of cans opening) Any questions?

Second Bruce: New-Bruce, are you a Poofter?

Fourth Bruce: Are you a Poofter?

Michael: No!

Fourth Bruce: No. Right, I just want to remind you of the faculty rules: Rule One!

Everybruce: No Poofters!

Fourth Bruce: Rule Two, no member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abbos in any way at all -- if there's anybody watching. Rule Three?

Everybruce: No Poofters!!

Fourth Bruce: Rule Four, now this term, I don't want to catch anybody not drinking. Rule Five,

Everybruce: No Poofters!

Fourth Bruce: Rule Six, there is NO ... Rule Six. Rule Seven,

Everybruce: No Poofters!!

Fourth Bruce: Right, that concludes the readin' of the rules, Bruce.

First Bruce: This here's the wattle, the emblem of our land. You can stick it in a bottle, you can hold it in your hand.

Everybruce: Amen!

etc...

Bush White House Site Preserved in Full (5, Informative)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617343)

The National Archives has preserved the whole final state of the Bush White House site here: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/ [archives.gov]

Re:Bush White House Site Preserved in Full (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617719)

What about the redacted bits?

Too much memory == no memory (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617375)

You have to cut down the noise somehow.

We don't need to save every teenager's text message.

I'm not willing to spend a lot of money to preserve my *own* memories. If they think it is so important, then they can kick in some money and free time to do it.

Re:Too much memory == no memory (5, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617589)

We don't need to save every teenager's text message.

Don't be so sure. One of an archaeologist's favourite places to dig is in the village rubbish tip. It's important because it tells us more about day-to-day life in a society than what people wrote down on papyrus, carved into stone, or otherwise saved for posterity.

In virtually every case, the stuff that rulers deem important doesn't bear much relation to the way everyday people live. Often enough, it's an outright lie. So if we want to understand a society with any depth of detail, we need to know the trivial and mundane as well as the monumental.

Re:Too much memory == no memory (1)

NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617817)

It's true. Look at all the photos of Obama's childhood and young adulthood that have been surfacing lately. Back then, he was just some kid. Now he's the most powerful man in the world. You never know what's going to be important in the future.

Re:Too much memory == no memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617623)

We don't need to save every teenager's text message.

But we need to save everyone's porn!

People need to shut the hell up about this (0, Flamebait)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617405)

Every era has suffered data loss. It isn't as though books never were damaged, papers never destroyed, etc. What's more, the ease of data generation has lead to far more useless data being generated. There is so much of it that really doesn't need to be preserved.

We are not headed for some disaster where we lose all our data. Rather we produce loads more and as with that there's going to be loads more crap as well as useful stuff. I mean while the actual website might have been taken down for the president, it isn't as though all records of him have gone.

Re:People need to shut the hell up about this (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617475)

I agree.

Save a massive, pan-global disaster involving EMP emissions, we are not going to have any trouble finding historical data from the past 25 years.

Heck, even ephemeral memes [youtube.com] don't really die out.

Blame the rich! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617447)

The capitalists try to destoy our memory of Marx [marx.org]

Archive.Org (3, Informative)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617571)

It's not perfect by any means but the WayBack machine on Archive.Org can find some pretty old stuff. Scary stuff too. Like that time I was into...... er forget it...

Plus if the Whitehouse doesn't get your fancy... there is tons of Grateful Dead Music there as well.

Preserving Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617577)

I have been preserving all music I can come across so that I can maintain an accurate record of the music that my generation had, for my kids.

Of course, I would never listen to all these MP3s I have archived from the web, they are just there for historical purposes, I promise.

Re:Preserving Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26617727)

Let me know when you open your online museum, Mr Torrent.

And nothing of value was lost (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617677)

Many of those Sydney 2000 Olympics websites would have been just ticket sales and general advertising. Much as I lament the transient nature of websites, a lot of it is just promotional material ... to pick a name at random: black-shoes.com is a typical no-content "spam" website. It is valueless today, let alone in the future.

Google (1)

CJmango (1451345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617723)

I believe Google has had an initiative where they basically save web pages at points in time, building up a history of the evolution of websites. While it is Google and not the government, this is still a prominent initiative to archive and maintain our internet heritage. Maybe someone can elaborate further on the details of this work?

Hmm, yeah (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617737)

We're not in danger of "losing our memories" - we're just more acutely aware of that which does get forgotten, due to the increasing volume of documentation. We've never remembered more.

There were more than 150 websites relating to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that vanished instantly at the end of the games

That's hardly surprising, considering the fascist content restriction that was in action during / after the games. Good luck trying to get a replay of anything if it wasn't provided to you by your local television station the day it occurred. Any sites that were up during the games were nothing more than commentary and thus are largely irrelevant after the fact.

yeah. George W. Bush as our intellectual heritage. (0, Flamebait)

porky_pig_jr (129948) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617743)

we certainly should preserve that memory. until we find yet lower watermark.

Save CONTENT, not just "links" (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617783)

This is NOT news. This is exactly why I've been rather obsessed with saving the actual content of anything online that has value to me. The Web is VOLATILE, period... there is no built-in version control system on the Internet. The Wayback Machine and such is great, but it's an isolated exception. Saving merely links to interesting things for future reference is a solution doomed to eventual failure.

What this article discusses, BTW, is something that the Free Market cannot solve. What we're discussing here requires prescriptive socialistic behavior to avoid (or solve belatedly); there is no economic benefit for doing this (that I can perceive). Descriptive capitalistic behavior can't create the consensus required to get jobs like this done. This requires cooperation, not competition.

Porn sites? (3, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617835)

These archives always neglect the porn sites. Our knowledge of Rome would have been much diminished without the preserved brothels of Herculaneum and Pompei.

Wget + money = solution (1)

LonghornXtreme (954562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617873)

If you really want to save 'memories,' just learn to use wget and start mirroring whatever you think is important. But you'll need to hire a few lawyers for copyright and other issues, find some investors (read idiots) to give you the money needed for a data center.

Cast In The Name of God Ye Not Guilty (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26617881)

"My name is Roger Smith. I perform a much-needed job here in this city of amnesia.

"This place, Paradigm City, is a town of forgetfulness. One day, forty years ago, every person here lost all memory of anything which had occurred before that day. But humans are adaptable creatures. They make do and go on with life. If they're smart enough to figure out how to operate machinery and get electricity, they can still have something like a civilization even without a history. People can survive without knowing what did or didn't happen in the past, and each day they try their hardest to do just that. The only ones who regret the loss of these memories are the city's elderly. But memories, like nightmares, sometimes come when you least expect them."

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