Headline Aug 10, 2015/ ''' DIGITAL VELLUM '''


STORING DIGITAL data for eternity now looms just above the horizon. New storage  solutions could ensure that we never enter a Digital Dark Age. 

Long Now, a nonprofit organization for data preservation, may have a solution that could help our information survive a digital  [or other] apocalypse,

And maybe even help our survivors rebuild.

The Rosetta is a  3-inch disk of nickel laser-etched with 13,000 page's worth of linguistic information.

Much of it is made up of parallel texts    -the same words in lots of languages, sort of like the project's archaeological namesake.

For example, the Rosetta includes the first three chapters of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, written in 15,000 different languages.  

''We're not a religious organization,'' says Welcher, the Rosetta's curator. But they needed to find texts that were written in as many languages as possible  -even those least commonly found around the world.

In order to create the most comprehensive translation keystone possible for future generation.

''It turns out that there are missionaries around the world who are working on Bible translations,'' says Welcher.

''The rest of the Rosetta library includes ''the 3,500 books most essential to sustain or rebuild civilization.''

Currently, each page of the project is  400 micros across   -about the width of five human hairs. That sounds small, but compared with the DNA, it's gigantic.

It can be read with a standard optical microscope that uses the same magnifying techniques  we've been using for hundreds of years.

"We could have put the information on a disc at a much higher density    made the pages much smaller so you'd have to read them with an electron microscope, says Welcher.

''But it takes a long time for a society to get to the point where they can magnify to that extent.''  In other words, even more apocalypse, Rosetta will be readable.

Long Now is also looking to help documents withstand the more mundane threat of  "I can't read this floppy!"  '' type of digital darkness."

The group is developing the  Long Server,  an ever growing database of  file-conversion resources.
Got a bunch of old.pcx files you'd love to convert to  .jpgs?

Long Server's Format Exchange can help you out.

Cerf, who started this conversation, writes the author, wants to do Format Exchange  one better.

He's called for the creation of  '' digital Vellum, ''  a technique for packing and storing data files along with all the code to decrypt them.

Example : if you store a document made on Microsoft Word on an  Apple Computer running OS X  10.8.5 a s a piece of digital vellum and open it in 100 years-

Whatever machine you have that can decode computer data will have all it needs to take you back in time. It would be able to  reconstruct that same Apple computer, built and run  OS X 10.8.5  and  whatever version of Word you installed on it, and open the document exactly as it was.

If  you've have ever used a program like  Boot Camp  to emulate Windows on a Mac computer, that's more or less what  digital vellum would be like, except instead of emulating a current OS, you'd be emulating a system from a previous century   -from the structure on up.

One thing for sure, though : If we want to get this done, we 'd better start soon. Digitization has created an environment where we can produce an enormous amount of data-

90%  of all data ever generated by human beings has been created in the past two years,  according to IBM.

Safeguarding even a fraction of that information could give us the richest historical record the human race has ever known.

Failing to preserve that information would mean that the records of one of one of the most innovative eras is history could be lost.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of technology. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Digital Light '''

Good Night and God bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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