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

Michael Peel email at mikepeel.net
Sun May 10 20:58:55 UTC 2009

I don't want to restart this rather long (but very interesting)  
topic, but I'd like to point out / remind people that a couple of  
well-placed fires could wipe out most of wikipedia et al. as we  
currently know it - surely the first priority, before thinking about  
the real long term, is to sort that out? Remember the Library of  


On 7 May 2009, at 15:21, Aryeh Gregor wrote:

> 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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