Tags: longnow

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The Ray Cat Solution

A website dedicated to one of the most, um, interesting solutions to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage problem:

  1. Engineer cats that change colour in response to radiation.
  2. Create the culture/legend/history that if your cat changes colour, you should move some place else.

There are T-shirts!

Keeper of the Clock

An unfolding series of vignettes written by Danny Hillis back in 2010. It’s all very Borgesian.

Our World In Data

If you’re in need of some long-term perspective right now—because, let’s face it, the short-term outlook is looking pretty damn bleak—then why not explore some of Max Roser’s data visualisations? Have a look at some of the global trends in inequality, disease, hunger, and conflict.

Is DNA the Future of Data Storage? - WSJ

It’s still many years away from being a viable storage option, but here’s the latest on using DNA to back up our collective data.

Magnetic tape may survive a few decades, and DVDs even longer, but they are by no means immortal. Data stored in DNA, provided it’s kept cold and dry, could last for thousands of years.

Archiving a Website for Ten Thousand Years - The Atlantic

Prompted by the way Craig is handling the shutdown of hi.co, Glenn Fleishman takes a look at other digital preservation efforts and talk to Laura Welcher at the Long Now Foundation.

A time capsule is bottled optimism. It makes material the belief that human beings will survive long enough to retrieve and decode artifacts of the distant past.

Archiving Our Online Communities — Medium

Now this is how you shut down a service:

  • Maintain read-only URLs for at least ten years.
  • Create physical copies etched in metal held by cultural institutions for ten thousand years.
  • Allow users to export their data (of course).

Web projects often lack hard edges. They begin with clarity but end without. We want to close Hi.co with clarity. To properly bookend the website.

And nary a trace of “We are excited to announce…” or “Thank you for joining us on our incredible journey…”

(Such a shame that the actual shut-down notice is only on Ev’s blog, but hopefully Craig will write something on his own site too.)

Wicked Ambiguity and User Experience

This is my kind of talk—John Snow’s cholera map, the Yucca Mountain think-tank, the Pioneer plaque, the Voyager record, the Drake equation, the Arecibo signal, and the love song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

♫ These are a few of my fav-our-ite things! ♫

Hand Ax Technology - A Legend In Sustainability

Even more intriguing than their vast distribution across three continents is their time depth. Acheulean hand axes have been found at sites spanning 1.5 million years of human existence, dating from roughly 1.6 million years ago to about 100,000 years ago. That makes the Acheulean ax the most sustainable technology that members of our genus (Homo) ever developed. Consider, in contrast, the amount of technological change that has occurred in just the last 150 years (since the first telephone call), one ten-thousandth the amount of time the Acheulean hand ax was made and used. Or consider the amount of technological change in just the last 10 years (since the first iPhone was introduced), one one-hundred-fifty-thousandth the amount of time that Acheulean hand axes were made and used. In the memorable words of my former professor Arthur J. Jelinek, hand axes represent “mind-numbing technological stability.”

Eternal 5D data storage could record the history of humankind

360 terabytes of data stored for over 13 billion years:

Coined as the ‘Superman memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

#nodigitaldarkage? — Blog of the Long Now

A note of optimism for digital preservation:

Where a lack of action may have been more of the case in the 01990s, it is certainly less so today. In the early days, there were just a handful of pioneers talking about and working on digital preservation, but today there are hundreds of tremendously intelligent and skilled people focused on preserving access to the yottabytes of digital cultural heritage and science data we have and will create.

HTML5: The New Flash

A new presentation from the wonderfully curmudgeonly Steven Pemberton, the Nosferatu of the web. Ignore the clickbaity title.

I don’t agree with everything he says here, but I strongly agree with his preference for declarative solutions over (or as well as) procedural ones. In short: don’t make JavaScript for something that could be handled in markup.

This part really, really resonated with me:

The web is the way now that we distribute information. We will need the web pages we create now to be readable in 100 years time, just as we can still read 100-year-old books.

Requiring a webpage to depend on a particular 100-year-old implementation of Javascript is not exactly evidence of future-thinking.

The Clock of the Long Now on Vimeo

A short feature on the 10,000 year clock.

PDF: Designing For Deep Time: How Art History Is Used To Mark Nuclear Waste

Kelli Anderson’s thesis on the Human Interference Task Force project set up to mark nuclear waste sites for future generations (a project I’ve referenced in some of my talks).

Deep Time : A History of the Earth

This infographic offers a visual way to explore the various stages of the Earth’s history using a 12 hour clock analogy.

Future Library – Framtidsbiblioteket

Here’s a lovely project with an eye on the Long Now. Trees that were planted last year will be used to make paper to print an anthology in 2114.

Margaret Atwood is one of the contributors.

Alex Feyerke: Step Off This Hurtling Machine

I love this talk.

Alex takes a long-zoom look at the web and our technology stacks, from ’60s counterculture to start-up culture, touching on open source and the indie web along the way.

Long Now Years: Five-digit Dates and 10K-compliance at Home — Blog of the Long Now

How to get Yosemite to display five-digit years. It’s a bit of a hack, but we’ve got another 7,985 years to figure out a better solution.

Egyptology can help us future-proof our culture – Grayson Clary – Aeon

A look at long-term cultural and linguistic preservation through the lens of Egyptology.