Thursday, December 8, 2011

Binary Archaeology - Sifting Through the Corrupted Past

Authors who publish only via electronic devices and not through the agency of paper media of some sort may well be forgotten by and irrelevant to the future. 

Could this be true?

Will authors who publish only via electronic media be remembered by future generations?  Through what agency? With what impact?

What is the shelf life of electronic storage? How quickly can we expect data stored in computers to be corrupted? 

Or, in other words, what is the temporal extent of of our electronically-stored social and cultural memory?

This is not to say that electronic media is not now host to a very vibrant literature, and an astoundingly complex ongoing (and often instantaneous) commentary on current events - but what is the shelf life of that literature? - of that commentary?

I am concerned that, with the vast information already stored via computers, accessible at the touch of a finger, humanity may lose its capacity for functional memory. 

The extreme vastness of information now stored electronically already inhibits the accessibility of that data.  This hardly addresses the banality and irrelevancy of much of that stored data. Consider that much that is vital and vibrant on a computer browser page is surrounded - and often lost - within a plethora of extraneous and irrelevant visual material (This extraneous lateral field is filled with both pictorial and textual content: advertising, links, moving images - a constant and confusing barrage of entreaties and enticements for the reader's attention to stray away from the desired text if not away from the very page on which the text is displayed).  

As goes storage for the future - how does this barrage of irrelevant material impede or corrupt the relevant text? What extraneous materials visible on many a blog or news page will be thus corrupted into the content of the blog or news? 

The short shelf life of electronic storage, and the incredible complexity of binary configuration within a single electronic document bodes well for the future development and importance of Binary Archaeology.

There is an old literary joke  - that was stated in a very humorous poem, once published in The New Yorker : "Ha hah! the book of my enemy has been remaindered!" Now, I guess the exultant cry might well be, "ha ha! the text of my enemy has been corrupted!"

The exigencies of Temporal Displacement require that I  regularly subject my own memory to "data scrubbing".

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