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Re: transmission (was "Digital Dark Age")

Thank you, Dorothy.

A note might be added about who saves, too.  Actually,
what exists is influenced by who are the pack rats or archivists and what
their interests are.

As the curator of an historical collection I am often puzzled by
the fact that we have materials about one person, but about another
there is little to nothing depending on the individual or family's
priorities.  Also playing into the scenerio would be disasters, known or
unknown --
house fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, etc.
Lots of reasons why materials might not continue to exist.  I hope we
all realize that what we have of earlier days is not complete just as our
*current* history will not be complete.   However, that stored only on
computer generated media, I think, will be less complete than most.  Partly
because most of those most knowledgeable about computers are not pack rats.

Jane Brown

--On FriTu, Feb41222199997 8:37 AM -0500 "Dorothy Africa"
<africa@LAW.HARVARD.EDU> wrote:

>  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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