Sunday, March 9, 2008

Episode 5 - Do We Save Or Weed Out The Weeds?

On February 26, 2008 a new Global Seed Bank opened in Norway. The idea here is that if some horrible disaster happens, well we could at least plant some baby corn and purple basil. Or, could we? What did they put in the vault, what types of seeds are in there? Are there weeds? Is there weed?

This got us thinking about repositories of knowledge, which Dave though was what libraries are. Ken corrected Dave, as he often does. However, there are libraries that are more like repositories, like the Great Library at Alexandria, or the Library of Congress.

Dave always brings up a Canticle for Liebowitz, also tries to bring most any conversation around to talking about the Name of the Rose. Both of these works are about preserving knowledge. Preserving knowledge is what the fictional Memory Alpha was about in Star Trek. Preserving the world was what the horrible movie Independence Day was about, but that is another matter....

Isabelle and Maddie listened along to this episode and made the occasional comment, as well, Isabelle stepped on for a few minutes for Dave. Isabelle made an interesting point about youtube. Youtube itself really is a thing that preserves knowledge, who knew?

Enjoy Episode 5.

5 comments:

Rachel said...

I wanted to listen again before commenting (perhaps better phrased as "to listen again while I comment"), but I saw this in the New York Times this morning, and it's clear that someone at the Times was listening...
In Storing 1’s and 0’s, the Question Is $ (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/09/technology/techspecial/09store.html?_r=1&ref=techspecial&oref=slogin)

(In case the link doesn't work right, I'm emailing it to Dave via the Times website.)

Dave Brodbeck said...

Fascinating stuff Rachel. Yeah, I think people like Ken, and those in Ken's line of work are pretty into this sort of thing. That said, the rest of us just rely on Ken to make sure that we have stuff, not knowing what the hell the Kens of the world go through when we need some obscure article from the 1930s...

Rachel said...

I think it's really telling that whenever there is an article or discussion about preserving data long-term, the expert solution is paper. (Acid-free, of course, there's a whole generation of books disintegrating in a rain of dry brown flakes.) We've got hard copy (excuse the expression) that's lasted through fire and flood and being dropped in bogs and who knows what that is over a thousand years old and still legible--even beautiful. And I have disks less than 10 years old that I might or might not be able to open, assuming that I could get the hardware to open it on at all. (Which is why I back up everything on several media types, I'm both paranoid and pragmatic.)

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