Publish Or Perish: Data Storage And Civilization

Who do you think of when you think of ancient civilizations? Romans? Greeks? Chinese? India? Egyptians?  What about the Scythians, the Muisca, Gana, or the Kerma? You might not recognize that second group as readily because they all didn’t have writing systems. The same goes, to a lesser extent, for the Etruscans, the Minoans, or the inhabitants of Easter Island where they wrote, but no one remembers how to read their writing. Even the Egyptians were mysterious until the discovery of the Rosetta stone. We imagine that an author writing in Etruscan didn’t think that no one would be able to read the writing in the future–they probably thought they were recording their thoughts for all eternity. Hubris? Maybe, but what about our documents that are increasingly stored as bits somewhere?

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