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Author Topic: Modern Kids, old technology  (Read 2800 times)
Jim H
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« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2011, 02:07:20 AM »


Hmmm...  If I went without a phone that means I'd basically never see anyone ever again.  Everyone I know lives far apart and keep odd hours...  So cell phones are the only practical way of keeping in touch.  Kind of sucks sometimes actually. 


Write a letter?

I mean, if you are really spread out (like my family was when I went without a phone), you don't get together on a whim.  It has to be planned.  Writing works.  And a letter is something you put some of yourself into that the other person gets to keep.

Just think about how much of history we know from personal letters that were saved.  That's pretty much gone, now.   Bluesad

Well, I am exaggerating a bit.  We're not so spread out that we can't drive to each others houses, it's more like we all live half an hour by driving, and people are rarely home.  I always have to plan out when I meet friends, most of them have unpredictable work/homework and I can't readily communicate with them any other way than phone.  So it's very difficult to see anyone without talking to them on the phone.

As far as letters go, archaeologists now consider us to be in a far better era as far as preservation of personal history - tons of people save their emails, and the telephone had already vastly reduced the number of letters written.  There's way more being preserved of people's correspondence now than 20 years ago.
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« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2011, 02:09:26 AM »

The one thing that bothers the heck out of me is that I have an almost new camera and because it uses roll film, I can't use it anymore: no store sells film anymore.  Question
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Newt
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« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2011, 08:24:33 AM »

Just think about how much of history we know from personal letters that were saved.  That's pretty much gone, now.   Bluesad

Don't worry!  I still write letters!  And I collect stationery!

Letters are precious: my mom has collected all the letters and notes I sent her when my kids were tiny into one 'book' and revisits my accounts of their antics regularly.  That will become a family heirloom.  My dad treated the stories I sent him about a beloved dog the same way.  Dad is gone now, but we can read the things that made him laugh and relive a bit of those shared moments.  I'm afraid I have yet to hear of anyone preserving e-mails without printing them off.  Unless your 'documents' are deemed sufficiently significant to be archived somehow, it seems to me your electronic media are even more likely to disappear shortly after you are gone.   

Stationery!   I lucked into a trove of older, high-quality letter paper, cards and envelopes at an estate sale.  Thick, high rag content cream with deckle edges and a lovely finish/texture, stored in its own cedar box.  Even the simple feel of it makes letter writing special and using it elevates a mere note to an occasion!
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« Reply #33 on: January 20, 2011, 09:04:15 AM »


As far as letters go, archaeologists now consider us to be in a far better era as far as preservation of personal history - tons of people save their emails, and the telephone had already vastly reduced the number of letters written.  There's way more being preserved of people's correspondence now than 20 years ago.


Well, then they are being INCREDIBLY short sighted, because most tech - geek discussions on this subject seem to be more in the line of stuff being more fragile now.

Electronic media require a reader - most the hardware and the 'translation" of the signal into meaningful data.

Due to compression and other storage protocols, the ENTIRE record of information may need to be readable in order to read ANY of it.  Finding 1/3 of a thumb drive may be useless, even IF the technology exists to read and translate the thing.

The data itself is more fragile.  Data on CD's and DVD's, for example, is only reliably good for 10's of years, which may be a bit longer than magnetic media.  Contrast this with the 1000's of years physical and macroscopic media have been preserved well enough not only to see the data but to translate it into meaningful info.

From a technological perspective, data now is far more likely to be lost for the future.  Note here that I am talking about day-to-day data not stuff that, like Newt points out, is specifically preserved.  Who knows if THAT will last, either.  I often wonder if they underestimate the forces of decay that could be at work.  After all, it's all untested hypothesis at this point.  We have yet to actually preserve electronic media for 1000's of years, through natural disasters, weathering, perhaps warfare like destruction, etc.  We/They just don't KNOW it is better now, and there are a lot of indicators that it is far, far more fragile.
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Newt
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« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2011, 09:41:36 AM »

Precisely, ulthar!  (And I AM speaking as a trained Archaeologist here) our current methods and technology should drive home the meaning of the word "ephemeral": "lasting or of use for only a short time".
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"I absolutely adore movies. Even bad ones. I don't like pretentious ones, but a good bad movie, you must admit, is great." - Roddy Mc Dowell
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"Thank you for appreciating my descent into deviant behavior, Mr. Reese." - Harold Finch
 "I'm going to need a swat team ready to mobilize, street maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammie dodgers and a fez." -  11
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« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2011, 11:43:37 PM »

From a technological perspective, data now is far more likely to be lost for the future.  Note here that I am talking about day-to-day data not stuff that, like Newt points out, is specifically preserved.  Who knows if THAT will last, either.  I often wonder if they underestimate the forces of decay that could be at work.  After all, it's all untested hypothesis at this point.  We have yet to actually preserve electronic media for 1000's of years, through natural disasters, weathering, perhaps warfare like destruction, etc.  We/They just don't KNOW it is better now, and there are a lot of indicators that it is far, far more fragile.

Speaking on that subject they had specified that it is rather unlikely to survive long.  I don't buy most things I see but they discussed this on "Life After People" on the history channel.  They were talking about how long our fingerprint would last if we were all gone.  Data as we currently have it can last but only under ideal temperature and moisture conditions.  Most stuff that is being preserved wouldn't last long without proper structures to maintain it.  Even under those conditions books last far longer.  Though it is interesting to note the things they thought to last the longest.  Concrete structures and stone carvings. 
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« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2011, 01:24:23 AM »

From a technological perspective, data now is far more likely to be lost for the future.  Note here that I am talking about day-to-day data not stuff that, like Newt points out, is specifically preserved.  Who knows if THAT will last, either.  I often wonder if they underestimate the forces of decay that could be at work.  After all, it's all untested hypothesis at this point.  We have yet to actually preserve electronic media for 1000's of years, through natural disasters, weathering, perhaps warfare like destruction, etc.  We/They just don't KNOW it is better now, and there are a lot of indicators that it is far, far more fragile.

Speaking on that subject they had specified that it is rather unlikely to survive long.  I don't buy most things I see but they discussed this on "Life After People" on the history channel.  They were talking about how long our fingerprint would last if we were all gone.  Data as we currently have it can last but only under ideal temperature and moisture conditions.  Most stuff that is being preserved wouldn't last long without proper structures to maintain it.  Even under those conditions books last far longer.  Though it is interesting to note the things they thought to last the longest.  Concrete structures and stone carvings. 

Somebody hand me a hammer, chisel and big slab of rock. I'm gonna have to record badmovies.org's existence for the ages.
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JaseSF
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« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2011, 01:41:19 AM »

Instant doesn't always necessarily mean better. That to me is a major flaw in today's thinking. Give me a traditional phone conversation over texting or cell-phones anyday. At least the old phone had a wire that limited your movement and kept you from doing stupid things like walking into walls, falling down manholes or into fountains. Yes everyone having these constant everyday distractions make them so much more efficient at work, on the highways, walking down the road now doesn't it??  Wink

Today's multitaskers are often today's morons as well.

Instant downloads may be more convenient but rarely do you get the same level of quality as with a CD. There's something lost in not having access to the record sleeve and its often artistic covers. There's something lost without the smell and musk of reading a book or a comic book, the feel, hold and smell cannot be duplicated online.
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Couchtr26
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« Reply #38 on: January 22, 2011, 04:25:15 AM »

From a technological perspective, data now is far more likely to be lost for the future.  Note here that I am talking about day-to-day data not stuff that, like Newt points out, is specifically preserved.  Who knows if THAT will last, either.  I often wonder if they underestimate the forces of decay that could be at work.  After all, it's all untested hypothesis at this point.  We have yet to actually preserve electronic media for 1000's of years, through natural disasters, weathering, perhaps warfare like destruction, etc.  We/They just don't KNOW it is better now, and there are a lot of indicators that it is far, far more fragile.

Speaking on that subject they had specified that it is rather unlikely to survive long.  I don't buy most things I see but they discussed this on "Life After People" on the history channel.  They were talking about how long our fingerprint would last if we were all gone.  Data as we currently have it can last but only under ideal temperature and moisture conditions.  Most stuff that is being preserved wouldn't last long without proper structures to maintain it.  Even under those conditions books last far longer.  Though it is interesting to note the things they thought to last the longest.  Concrete structures and stone carvings. 

Somebody hand me a hammer, chisel and big slab of rock. I'm gonna have to record badmovies.org's existence for the ages.

 TeddyR  The year 2011 marked when humanity realized stone was the most lasting medium to write and began copying everything into the stone archives.  There was much debate but the decision was finally reached that chiseling movie scenes would be too expensive and time consuming. 
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Newt
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« Reply #39 on: January 22, 2011, 09:23:24 AM »

TeddyR  The year 2011 marked when humanity realized stone was the most lasting medium to write and began copying everything into the stone archives.  There was much debate but the decision was finally reached that chiseling movie scenes would be too expensive and time consuming. 

Just for fun: the next time you are in a suitable environment (city, large town, commercial area) take a look around and imagine what would be left to leave an impression of who we were after you remove everything that burns, rots, corrodes or otherwise decays.  Then try picturing the culture that produced just those things that remain: what were the people like as a group and what was important to them?   Wink
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"May I offer you a Peek Frean?" - Walter Bishop
"Thank you for appreciating my descent into deviant behavior, Mr. Reese." - Harold Finch
 "I'm going to need a swat team ready to mobilize, street maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, 12 jammie dodgers and a fez." -  11
Ed, Ego and Superego
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« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2011, 11:20:43 AM »

The TV Show Life After People (I think it is) on the History Channel talksabout this, and by their reckoning, nothing much we have build will last 500 years in a recognizable form.
-Ed
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ulthar
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« Reply #41 on: January 22, 2011, 03:22:01 PM »

The only problem with that show is that it is almost all blind conjecture.

That's what's happened to the History Channel in recent years...they've replaced solidly researched programming with out-of-the-anus speculation on a variety of topics, all unsubstantiated by anything scientific, create some cool animated computer graphics, and ENTERTAIN, ENTERTAIN ENTERTAIN.

Why let little things like facts and real science get in the way...and how is most of what they show now HISTORY anyway?

Even Modern Marvels (some of those things will last a while, I'd wager) has taken a nose dive of late, I notice.  Lots of topics, while interesting in their own right, are neither modern nor marvels.

The bottom line is that it is VERY tricky to extrapolate much of anything into the future.  There are few things we CAN do this with very well, but only when we stick to things that lie very close to our fundamental physical laws (gravity, conservation of mass, etc).  Once we get into complex dynamical systems, all bets are off beyond some tiny fraction of the timescale of the perturbations from equilibrium.
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« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2011, 03:55:53 PM »

Although they are at least partly right about what's likely to happen to a lot of our material culture. Digital files just don't last long; even if you have it on a disk or something that somehow survives, how will you access that information? We have trouble accessing files and programs from media that are only 10 years old! Add to that the fact that many things are designed to break or just wear out after X number of years/uses, and well...okay, it's likely that our trash is going to survive. That stuff just does NOT decompose.

5000 years from now, they're still going to be finding plastic bags from our time (unless we recycle all of them, then they'll probably find whatever we turned them into).
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Couchtr26
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« Reply #43 on: January 22, 2011, 11:45:08 PM »

The only problem with that show is that it is almost all blind conjecture.

I will give you that but I wouldn't say they were completely wrong in there calculation here.  At least, in there answer of how long most modern data will last.  However, in the end, isn't that the problem with being human an obsession with time.  How or if we will be remembered.  There is something in us that drives us to leave some mark on the world and hope it is noticed. 
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Jim H
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« Reply #44 on: January 23, 2011, 01:41:25 AM »


As far as letters go, archaeologists now consider us to be in a far better era as far as preservation of personal history - tons of people save their emails, and the telephone had already vastly reduced the number of letters written.  There's way more being preserved of people's correspondence now than 20 years ago.


Well, then they are being INCREDIBLY short sighted, because most tech - geek discussions on this subject seem to be more in the line of stuff being more fragile now.

Electronic media require a reader - most the hardware and the 'translation" of the signal into meaningful data.

Due to compression and other storage protocols, the ENTIRE record of information may need to be readable in order to read ANY of it.  Finding 1/3 of a thumb drive may be useless, even IF the technology exists to read and translate the thing.

The data itself is more fragile.  Data on CD's and DVD's, for example, is only reliably good for 10's of years, which may be a bit longer than magnetic media.  Contrast this with the 1000's of years physical and macroscopic media have been preserved well enough not only to see the data but to translate it into meaningful info.

From a technological perspective, data now is far more likely to be lost for the future.  Note here that I am talking about day-to-day data not stuff that, like Newt points out, is specifically preserved.  Who knows if THAT will last, either.  I often wonder if they underestimate the forces of decay that could be at work.  After all, it's all untested hypothesis at this point.  We have yet to actually preserve electronic media for 1000's of years, through natural disasters, weathering, perhaps warfare like destruction, etc.  We/They just don't KNOW it is better now, and there are a lot of indicators that it is far, far more fragile.

This is all true (a bit of trivia I like: it's more reliable and considerably cheaper to store Hollywood films on film than on hard drive backup stuff), but there's such an incredibly large amount of data being produced now that even if less than a thousandth of it survives as has survived from antiquity, we'll still have WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more stuff from the past 20 years than any other era ever.  Not to mention the gigantically huge numbers of physical books still being created (though, of course, only the acid free ones will survive for long). 

Preserving our heritage and old stuff is an ongoing task, but it always has been.  If it hadn't been for the scholars in the Islamic world, we'd have lost quite a bit of the stuff from antiquity.  We still need such people, of course, but when people actively work to preserve history (like what I do - I periodically reburn redundant backups of all my old documents, going back nearly 20 years now), as is going on right now, it's not something I'm really that concerned about.  You just constantly migrate and backup data (something much easier with vast interconnected networks, which when designed right are resistant to damage), and make periodic hard copies.  I hear people talk about file systems, and file types, and all that stuff. That was once a big deal, but not as big of an issue as it once was.  I suppose it is possible we'll see some huge advance in file systems or the way digital data is stored, but personally I find it unlikely it will be impossible to translate texts to it.  You can convert over text files from the very first PCs to a brand new one with a little work, and that's a 30 year gap.  And in the past 20 years, there are a number of files types that really HAVEN'T changed.  The trend now seems to be convergence and greater stability.  The extreme importance of the internet, which seems unlikely to end, means all computers coming out will be standardized to work with it, with files shareable between them.

Granted, all this could change. 

It is worth mentioning now that only a tiny fraction of written history has survived from any past period.  That's not likely to change.  But the shear volume is so enormous today, I think we'll see a lot from the current era surviving for millenia.
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