June 17, 2011

OBVIOUSLY, WE NEED TO START ON THE ENCYCLOPEDIA GALACTICA TO SHORTEN ANY POTENTIAL DARK AGE: After an Apocalypse, What’s Left of Digital Stores of Knowledge? “Books, unlike our more complicated media, have no technological dependencies when it comes time to access their contents. They have other disadvantages — they’re highly flammable and vulnerable to moisture and insects — but that still puts them ahead of hard drives and CD-ROMS. And especially data centers.”

UPDATE: Patrick Carroll emails:

Even such an encyclopedia might not be enough.

Years ago I watched two great series’ by James Burke on the BBC, “The Day the Universe Changed” and “Connections”. One of the episodes had the story monks traveling south from the Holy Roman Empire into Italy, and bringing back books left over from the fall of the Roman Empire. Charlemagne suddenly fojnd himself confronted with books on things like jurisprudence that were so sophisticated (relative to newly un-dark ages Germany), that nobody could make neither head nor tail of them. (e.g., “What’s a ‘tort’?”)

So, maybe as well as an encyclopedia, we could use some bootstrapping. (“Can you make fire?” “OK, here’s how…”) Something like the interactive book out of Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age”. Though, you know, hardened to survive the apocalypse.


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