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Re: transmission (was "Digital Dark Age")

 Now, now, Dennis, let us not dump on Mr. Fletcher.  Somebody has to be
the optimist around here!  The discussion raises the point that the
transmission of knowledge really requires two things, 1) a durable,
accessible, credible medium 2) the ability of future generations to use
it.  Yes, clay tablets survive, but how many people can read them? We
read them because a collection of intermediaries survive, texts that
explain how to read the dead language written in still living languages.
 Same for computer tech. if we can supply the necessary intermediaries,
we can use the older computer records as long as they themselves last.
The trouble is that the intermediaries become part of what has to be
saved, as well as the primary materials themselves, and we are well past
critical mass for the sheer amount of info we have to save on a wide
variety of media.  Every generation of the living, must, like it or not,
make a choice of what it passes on.  There isn't an old book that comes
into our hands (to get back to familar ground!) that hasn't survived
numerous private decisions about saving or discarding.  For people that
work in the field of preservation (librarians, collectors, bookbinders,
pack rats...)the first question is not how to save, but whether.
  Dorothy Africa

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