Making Culture Indestructible

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 31 2012 @ 10:44am


Matt Simon profiles Brewster Kahle, a man recently inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his efforts to save our cultural inheritance:

Here’s the problem with libraries. They catch on fire really easily. As such, they were the prized targets of the invading hordes of antiquity – the model collections of knowledge of their times, whose only fault was their inherent flammability. They were one-man, one-torch jobs. But the hordes didn’t prize the library only for how powerfully it burned. Back in those days, if you wanted to kill a culture, you killed its library. All it took was one chucklehead with a flaming stick to annihilate thousands of years of accumulated knowledge. And it happened often.

How Brewster Kahle combats this problem:

Kahle took the library of libraries — the internet — and made a couple of copies of it, and keeps making copies. One he keeps in servers in San Francisco, the other in mirror servers in Alexandria, where the world’s most famous library burned 2,000 years ago. (His data survived the Egyptian revolution unscathed.)

(From the Jardin de la Connaissance, the garden of decaying books in Quebec, via Dezeen)