[Foundation-l] Long-term archiving of Wikimedia content

Aryeh Gregor Simetrical+wikilist at gmail.com
Thu May 7 14:21:49 UTC 2009

On Wed, May 6, 2009 at 8:13 PM, Platonides <Platonides at gmail.com> wrote:
> In that futuristic approach I find it more likely that there will be no
> paper / printer, but instead everthing will be stored into
> computers/PDAs and transfered between them. So in the event of the
> catastrophe you'd be only able to access it with the surviving devices.

In such a futuristic world, I would expect that the major sources of
power would be things like solar and geothermal that don't require
long-distance supply chains.  Then even if the world falls into
anarchy, some well-stocked parts will still have power for a good long
while.  So you wouldn't need to actually print it out, you'd have
computers running continuously in some places.

Even if 95% of humanity was wiped out, you'd still have a few hundred
million people.  Not one of them is going to be in a position to save
some computers?  Even militaries, which are prepared for all sorts of
disasters -- some of which will have computers in multiple
geographically distributed bunkers deep underground with enough fuel
on-site to keep them running for days to years?

> You have a copy of wikipedia on your hard disk. You can access it.
> But your computer lifetime is finite. And you also don't know for how
> much time you'll still have electric current.
> What do you do?

Screw Wikipedia.  If I want to preserve useful knowledge, I'll make
sure to safeguard my textbooks.  In terms of utility for rebuilding
society, the value of Wikipedia is zero compared to even a tiny
university library.  And there are many thousands of university
libraries already conveniently scattered around the world, not a few
of them in subbasements where they'll be resistant to nasty things
happening on the surface.

On Thu, May 7, 2009 at 12:16 AM, Tim Starling <tstarling at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> I wouldn't go quite that far. The idea of doing it (or having done it)
> makes people feel good, due to the collective sci-fi-like fantasy
> implicitly promulgated by the project itself -- a future world of
> poverty and decay, saved by the serendipitous discovery of a
> time-capsule sent from the past. It's a spectacle, a stunt, and it has
> PR value.
> I certainly don't begrudge the Long Now Foundation for having done
> this with the Rosetta Project, since their primary goal is to
> encourage long-term thinking, and expensive stunts are obviously a key
> part of that.
> But Wikimedia's goals are somewhat different, and we could probably
> find some stunts which are more relevant to our mission.

Okay, I can agree with that.

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