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Re: "Digital Dark Age"

Okay, it's 5:30 AM this snowy, blowy morning in St. PAul and I'm gonna take
another pass at this:  First a pithy comment...Hal says the word "ego" has
come up; I've another in the same vein (vain?) -- HUBRIS.

Technologies DO disappear and to make the assumption that they won't is to
be blind to the fundamental dynamics of human culture and history. To make
broad, sweeping pronouncements about how "the open architecture of the IBM
clone - PC " will continue for the next thousand years exhibits the very
arrogance of the anthropocentric, geocentric, jingoist thinking that gets
human beings into trouble every time.

Many of Fletcher's comments so far reveal a curious idea about how
archivists, preservationists, and conservators work. It has been said,
however ironically or cynically one wishes to interpret it, that "History
is written by the victor" and the comment holds some very potent truth. Go
look through the contents of any large institution's collective memory and
you can see first hand the force of the idea.

Data gets lost. Data gets changed, however innocently.  In this case,
DATA=CONTENT. Sh*t happens.

The strength of stressing  human-readability lies precisely in the fact
that the information  remains ACCESSIBLE so long as there as human beings
to access it. Yes, there is some positively mind-bogglingly exciting work
being done in the Sandia Labs to use an ion beam to write data to a
titanium steel needle ... but you can't pick up the needle and read it.
(Can't dance to either!) In fact the biggest hurdle the scientists seem to
be facing is ACCESS...they can get data on the needle, but they haven't
developed a dependable means of getting the data back out where it can be

The average human (what ever THAT means!) is not expert enough to build a
386 processor, much less the computer that uses it. Perhaps DT Fletcher
should consider the plight of St. Lebowitz...or would that qualify as an
obscure literary reference at this early hour? Go sing a canticle to the
fluorescent light...8-)...

It seems this thread came out of a discussion about the future of
bookbinding.  Perhaps we should keep in mind that it is not the things that
we choose to remember that is important but the quality of the things that
we learn to forget.

Ya'll have a nice day...I gotta go play sleep and slide in the traffic.
Lock those hubs!


>Yes, one may be able to design and, possibly even to build, a 386 processor
>type computer at the turn of the next millenium.  However, that doesn't mean
>it will be possible to find the specs and be able to read any particular
>file format.
>I think WAY too much thought is being put into hoping that what we do now
>will be available to future generations and WAY too little thought is being
>put into doing something that they will want to avail themselves of.
>That isn't just a problem on this list, BTW, for some reason many artists
>seem to have their priorities turned around.   The word "ego" has come up on
>at least one other list I subscribe to....
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Book_Arts-L: READ THE FAQ at http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey
>[mailto:BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU]On Behalf Of DT Fletcher
>Sent: Thursday, February 11, 1999 8:45 AM
>Subject: Re: "Digital Dark Age"
>> The simple fact is that
>>because of the open architecture of the IBM clone -PC the basic design
>>information is in the public domain. Intel lost their attempt to copyright
>>basic 386 computer core and so it too is now public domain. The knowledge
>>how to build a 386 compatable PC will be available a thousand years from
>>90% of todays computers (100's of millions) run on 386 compatable
>>It is complete nonsense to believe for an instant that the knowledge of, or
><even assess to, use this basic level of computer technology will ever be
><dt fletcher

"That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time"
--John Stuart Mill (1806-73)

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