information retrieval

Was watching this doco about archimedes the other day and was thinking about how information can be lost and refound. I sure hope to goodness that someone is archiving the whole of what’s on the internet. Sure it’s not being done in public, but maybe there’s some secret para-govt. organisation somewhere with giant archives of it all – the hoarder in me really wants this to be so. If they can monitor as much as they can with Echelon, then surely they could do this. And even if it’s not available to everyone now, it will be when the structures of civilisation change. It’ll happen one day – just look at Imperial Rome.
I don’t know exactly what the deal is with hard disks. I know that phorensics people can retrieve stuff from disks even after they’ve been erased several times, but what about when things are continually overlayed. Could they take mine and see the ghost of red hat 7.2, or whatever it was I first put on it, 15 months ago. The problem is that there’s so many hard disks scattered across the planet, even if future ‘archeologists’ – or what equates to them – could read everything that’d been on the disks.

The thing is, the makers of the parchment that Archi wrote on probably never consciously thought, ‘this stuff’s gotta hold up for 2 millenia plus’. And if you’d said to the folks from 3 or 5 hundred years ago, ‘Here’s Archimedes’ book, what do ya reckon?’ – they would’ve said it was pretty buggered, but people today can get legible stuff out of it.
I was just thinking that with little 10, 20 or 40 gig hardrives scattered everywhere, there could be a modern-day archimedes out there right now, maybe messing around with a computerised version of Spirograph, but it’d be a fluke if anyone found their research.
But what’s this – as I write – I read this at Core about a whole city moving to a centralised system of data storage. (Okay well, maybe not the whole city.) That’s an interesting development. It’d make it a hell of a lot easier for future peoples to study us.

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