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bear by san

March 2017



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criminal minds fate

the house wins. the house wins again.

Pause for a moment, oh ye of the online SFF publishing community, to ponder the resource we're creating for archivists and historians and literary critics four hundred years on.

Assuming we haven't blown up the planet or at the very least the information superstructure by then.

Now imagine the problems they're going to have finding and accessing that information so they can put it together, and sifting out the relevant bits once they have done.

Why yes, this does have something to do with Undertow. ;-) And Dust too, come to think of it.


The "state of the art" recording media of just a century ago is almost unusable - wax cylinders seem so quaint and archaic.

Just within our lifetimes, the LP and the 8-track and reel-to-reel 8mm have nearly vanished, except among hobbyists or aficionados.

CD/DVD media gets stale, whether it's been written to or not, and is hardly the most durable thing going.

which is all a long-winded way of saying, "yup, you're absosmurfly right, eBear."
I read that somebody just won a Grammy for re-issuing cylinders on CD. I have to plow through a 1000 pages book on African American recording artists on cylinder, for a book i'm working one.. And it you were a blues, country, or early jazz fanatic, you would know that access to early recordings is now much better than it was in the day. Much has been lost, but there is a lot of stuff out there.
Project Gutenberg has a selection of recordings from wax cylinders. The real problem is that copyright lasts so much longer than the technological life cycle, which means that pretty much only the publisher is legally allowed to format-shift something, and if they decide that it's not economically worth their while (or if they go out of business) no-one else can do a thing for decades, by which time the record player's in the museum and the LPs are mouldering at the dump after the church fair couldn't sell them for 10c a box.
Yeah, it's gonna be a nightmare.

The truth buried in too much information, rather than too little. Talk about a shift.
I think the Information Superstructure will long outlast humanity, as clay tablets have outlasted
Babylon. It won't be long before the IS becomes self aware and self protective.. Oh, wait, that's a silly Buck Rogers idea... sorry..
Now imagine the problems they're going to have finding and accessing that information so they can put it together, and sifting out the relevant bits once they have done.

The experts are on it. *g*
Wax cylinders warp, melt or get munged. Magnetic media get demagnetized. Discs degrade over time. Clay tablets shatter and erode. Paper mildews and burns.

So...what we're saying here is...the only way to guarantee that information is retrievable in the future is to have it be valued and reprinted/reissued/re-recorded/rewritten/remembered in each generation between now and then. Anything that is left to lie, on any medium at all, is a game of chance and fragments.
Ironically, the Times did a series about a 1000-year time-capsule, in 2001, in their magazine, and came to the conclusion that the best way to preserve a capsule for that long would be to found a religion around it.

So, yes!
Hah! Yes. Zackly.

Although the internet and its endless self-archiving looks to become a pretty good approximation. Which is the magor SFnal idea in UNDERTOW that everybody will miss.

I kind of like hiding these cool SF ideas under piles of leaves.
I have a vague idea that somebody is building a perpetual clock out west someplace, that is supposed to last a million years (?)
There's been a lot of discussion on how to mark Yucca Mountain if the nuke dump there goes through. Because some archaeologist might come along in 10,000 years and crack that sucker open, and--

Cast the waste into big cement blocks and build pyramids... or giant Hyperbporian/ Mordorish Skulls..

Now imagine the problems they're going to have finding and accessing that information

It's not going to take 400 years for that to happen -- it's happening already with information that's 35 to 50 years old.

Census data from the 60s and the 70s is stored on computer tapes (which are degrading) that can only be read by machines that no longer exist.

Pretty much every university computer center that I'm aware of has reels and reels of data of one sort or another on tape -- sometimes they've kept the tapes more-or-less readable by current computers, but more often not. Even when they have, the key to the encoding/schema/mark-up of that information generally isn't available either.

Even if information has been moved from floppy disk to cd to some form of online storage, most of it's in proprietary formats that can no longer be read -- even by later generations of the same programs with which the information was created.

Not that I have strong opinions on this topic or anything. But I'll save the rest of that particular rant for another time.

Thanks to this post, I just spent the past hour or so wallowing in nostalgia by flicking through Wikipedia and other places, reading about Commodore PETs, Radio Shack TRS-80, Sinclair (Timex) ZX80/81/Spectrum and other computers of my youth - or at least, early adult-hood...

Gods, I miss those days, when home computers were simple, and you could spend hours tweaking tiny little tricks to make your program run faster, do better graphics....