Blog Archive for the year 02006

navigateleft Older Articles   

Publish And Perish

Posted on Friday, December 1st, 02006 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link   Categories: Digital Dark Age   chat 0 Comments

A piece in Forbes Magazine

Publish And Perish
Elisabeth Eaves, 12.01.06, 12:00 PM ET

Nothing is safe. Not your e-mails, digital photos or Word files. Not old newspapers or books. When it comes to storing information, everything will disappear into digital obsolescence or crumble to dust.

Even White House e-mails, important blueprints and influential works of 20th-century literature–the very artifacts that you’d expect would be carefully preserved–are at risk of being lost forever.

The National Archives and Records Administration, the agency responsible for preserving the federal government’s documents, realized in the 1990s that it couldn’t cope with the digital era using its old electronic storage system of magnetic tapes. The White House under the Bush Administration alone will generate as many as 100 million e-mails. Copying them would take years. NARA has contracted Lockheed Martin (nyse: LMT – news – people ) to build a federal digital archive, but the system won’t be ready until at least September of 2007.
The Library of Congress, meanwhile, ditched most of its original newspaper collection after transferring the content to microform, which uses a machine to read film. But Nicholson Baker, in his book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, says the medium is at least as iffy as paper: Some early acetate films “shrink, buckle, bubble or stick together in a solid illegible lump,” he writes. In the ’80s libraries switched to polyester-based films. But some types of polyester films are prone to spots, others attract fungus and another suffered “complete image loss” when exposed to the high heat of common microform readers.


Phillip Rosedale – ‘Second Life:’ What Do We Learn If We Digitize EVERYTHING?

Posted on Thursday, November 30th, 02006 by Simone Davalos
link   Categories: Seminars   chat 0 Comments

Philip Tetlock

2nd Life takes off

What is real life coming to owe digital life?

After a couple years in the flat part of exponential growth, the steep part is now arriving for the massive multi-player online world construction kit called “Second Life.” With 1.7 million accounts, membership in “Second Life” is growing by 20,000 per day. The current doubling rate of “residents” is 7 months, still shortening, which means the growth is (for now) hyperexponential. For this talk the founder and CEO of “Second Life,” Philip Rosedale, tried something new for him— a simultaneous demo and talk. His online avatar, “Philip Linden,” was on the screen showing things while the in-theater Philip Rosedale was conjecturing about what it all means…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

The Digital Ice Age

Posted on Monday, November 20th, 02006 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link   Categories: Digital Dark Age   chat 0 Comments

A good article on the digital preservation problem in Popular Mechanics:

When the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz takes to sea, it carries more than a half-million files with diagrams of the propulsion, electrical and other systems critical to operation. Because this is the 21st century, these are not unwieldy paper scrolls of engineering drawings, but digital files on the ship’s computers. The shift to digital technology, which enables Navy engineers anywhere in the world to access the diagrams, makes maintenance and repair more efficient. In theory. Several years ago, the Navy noticed a problem when older files were opened on newer versions of computer-aided design (CAD) software.

“We would open up these drawings and be like, ‘Wow, this doesn’t look exactly like the drawing did before,'” says Brad Cumming, head of the aircraft carrier planning yard division at Norfolk Navy Shipyard.

The changes were subtle — a dotted line instead of dashes or minor dimension changes — but significant enough to worry the Navy’s engineers. Even the tiniest discrepancy might be mission critical on a ship powered by two nuclear reactors and carrying up to 85 aircraft.

The challenge of retrieving digital files isn’t an issue just for the U.S. Navy. In fact, the threat of lost or corrupted data faces anyone who relies on digital media to store documents — and these days, that’s practically everyone. Digital information is so simple to create and store, we naturally think it will be easily and accurately preserved for the future. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, our digital information — everything from photos of loved ones to diagrams of Navy ships — is at risk of degrading, becoming unreadable or disappearing altogether.


Katherine Fulton – “The Deeper News About the New Philanthropy”

Posted on Friday, November 3rd, 02006 by Simone Davalos
link   Categories: Seminars   chat 0 Comments

Katherine Fulton

Philanthropic stamina

10,000 families in the US, Katherine Fulton reported, have assets of $100 million or more. That’s up from 7,000 just a couple years ago. Most of that money is “on the sidelines.” The poor and the middle class are far more generous in their philanthropy, proportionally, than the very wealthy. Philanthropy across the board is in the midst of intense, potentially revolutionary, transition, she said. There’s new money, new leaders, new rules, new technology, and new needs…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

John Baez – Zooming Out In Time

Posted on Monday, October 16th, 02006 by Simone Davalos
link   Categories: Seminars   chat 0 Comments

John Baez

Welcome to the Anthropocene

The graphs we see these days, John Baez began, all look vertical— carbon burning shooting up, CO2 in the air shooting up, global temperature shooting up, and population still shooting up. How can we understand what really going on? “It’s like trying to understand geology while you’re hanging by your fingernails on a cliff, scared to death. You think all geology is vertical.”

So, zoom out for some perspective. An Earth temperature graph for the last 18,000 years shows that we’ve built a false sense of security from 10,000 years of unusually stable climate. Even so, a “little dent” in the graph of a drop of only 1 degree Celsius put Europe in a what’s called “the little ice age” from 1555 to 1850. It ended just when industrial activity took off…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Orville Schell – “China Thinks Long-term, But Can It Relearn to Act Long-term?”

Posted on Wednesday, October 4th, 02006 by Simone Davalos
link   Categories: Seminars   chat 0 Comments

Orville Schell

Giant contradictions

“China is the most unresolved nation of consequence in the world,” Orville Schell began. It is defined by its massive contradictions. And by its massiveness— China’s population is estimated to be 1.25 to 1.3 billion; the margin of error in the estimate is greater than the population of France. It has 160 cities with a population over one million (the US has 49). It has the world’s largest standing army.

No society in the world has more millennia in its history, and for most of that history China looked back. Then in the 20th century the old dynastic cycles were replaced by one social cancellation after another until 1949, when Mao set the country toward the vast futuristic vision of Communism…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Modern History Gap

Posted on Wednesday, September 13th, 02006 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link   Categories: Digital Dark Age   chat 0 Comments

Storing information is easier than ever, but it’s also never been so easy to lose it — forever. We could end up with a modern history gap.

By Charles Piller, LA Times Staff Writer
September 13, 2006

Carter G. Walker remembers the day her memories vanished.

After sending an e-mail to her aunt, the Montana freelance writer stepped away from the computer to make a grilled-cheese sandwich. She returned a few minutes later to a black screen. Data recovery experts did what they could, but the hard drive was beyond saving — as were the precious moments Walker had entrusted to it.

“All my pregnancy pictures are gone. The video from my first daughter’s first couple of days is gone,” Walker said. “It was like a piece of my brain was cut out.”

Walker’s digital amnesia has become a frustratingly common part of life. Computers make storing personal letters, family pictures and home movies more convenient than ever. But those captured moments can disappear with a few errant mouse clicks — or for no apparent reason at all.


‘One small step for man,’ 700-box tape loss for NASA

Posted on Wednesday, August 16th, 02006 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
link   Categories: Digital Dark Age   chat 0 Comments

Original recordings of Apollo moon missions are missing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. government has misplaced the original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” a NASA spokesman said on Monday.

Armstrong’s famous space walk, seen by millions of viewers on July 20, 1969, is among transmissions that NASA has failed to turn up in a year of searching, spokesman Grey Hautaloma said.

“We haven’t seen them for quite a while. We’ve been looking for over a year and they haven’t turned up,” Hautaloma said.

The tapes also contain data about the health of the astronauts and the condition of the spacecraft. In all, some 700 boxes of transmissions from the Apollo lunar missions are missing, he said.


John Rendon – “Long-term Policy to Make the War on Terror Short”

Posted on Monday, July 17th, 02006 by Stewart Brand
link   Categories: Seminars   chat 0 Comments

John Rendon

Only connect

John Rendon, head of The Rendon Group, is a senior communications consultant to the White Houses and Departments of Defense. His subject in this talk is how to replace tactical, reactive response to terror with long-term strategic initative.

I think that people were expecting a silver-tongued devil, an accomplished spin-meister, arrogant but charming, who would dance them into some new nuanced state of understanding.

What they got instead from John Rendon was an earnest, soft-spoken message of such directness and scope that it apparently came across to some in the audience as dissembling…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

Will Wright and Brian Eno – “Playing with Time”

Posted on Monday, June 26th, 02006 by Simone Davalos
link   Categories: Seminars   chat 0 Comments

Brian Eno and Will Wright

Generative play

In a dazzling duet Will Wright and Brian Eno gave an intense clinic on the joys and techniques of “generative” creation.

Back in the 1970s both speakers got hooked by cellular automata such as Conway’s “Game of Life,” where just a few simple rules could unleash profoundly unpredictable and infinitely varied dynamic patterns. Cellular automata were the secret ingredient of Wright’s genre-busting computer game “SimCity” in 1989. Eno was additionally inspired by Steve Reich’s “It’s Gonna Rain,” in which two identical 1.8 second tape loops beat against each other out of phase for a riveting 20 minutes. That idea led to Eno’s “Music for Airports” (1978), and the genre he named “ambient music” was born.

Wright observed that science is all about compressing reality to minimal rule sets, but generative creation goes the opposite direction…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary