SOPA, PIPA, Owark and long term preservation

We use to distinguish things that are eternal and those that are ephemeral, but how valid is our judgment?

Take Wikipedia for instance. I used to take for granted that Wikipedia was here for ever, up and running and ready to send me any version of any page in any language and I was wondering how useful it is for my Owark project to archive Wikipedia pages.

Here come SOPA and PIPA and suddenly we realize that Wikipedia is threatened:

Wikipedia would be threatened in many ways. For example, in its current form, SOPA could require Wikipedia to actively monitor every site we link to, to ensure it doesn’t host infringing content. Any link to an infringing site could put us in jeopardy of being forced offline. The trust and openness that underlies the entire Wikipedia project would be threatened, and new, restrictive policies would make it harder for us to be open to new contributors.

If we can read the Odyssey today, it’s not because its original “editor” has been able to preserve it, but because “Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe” and enough copies had been spread to insure its transmission.

If Wikipedia (or any other website) are weaker than we use to think and can be closed down, we need to spread as many copies as possible and this is really what Owark is about.

Now, is that enough?

I have mixed feelings when I read (twitted by Karl Dubost and written by Sarah Lacy) that:

Long-term there’s no future in printed books.

I understand the point and there may be no future in printed books medium term, but electronic books depends on cheap and ubiquitous electricity and I wouldn’t bet that this will be the case long term!

We know that sooner or later we will have to dramatically reduce our power consumption and we don’t know how smooth or brutal will be the transition.

If we are wise enough to manage a smooth transition, the industry might be able to adapt itself.

If not, there is a serious risk is that many books or web pages, digital photos, songs, music, videos that rely on cheap energy are simply lost forever!

Should we print web pages to archive them?

2 thoughts on “SOPA, PIPA, Owark and long term preservation”

  1. # Paper based Publishing industry

    When she says “there is not future in printed books”. She is talking about the business model behind it. The traditional publishing houses. And I think she is right on that. It doesn’t mean at all. That printed texts will necessary disappear. The digital world doesn’t kill art and expression, it kills some business models based on different paradigm: objects.

    # Multiple copies

    That said: I deeply agree with the multiple copies. One of the DNA of our culture is the fact it is being copied in many items AND distributed. It’s the teaching of Alexandria Library. If the library burns, the thing is gone. Having only one copy of something (be paper or digital) makes it super fragile.

    # Digital/Physical world

    The big issue with the digitized culture is that it is indeed highly dependent on electricity as a mean of sustainability. No Power and everything is gone. void. The paper has a nice feature in terms of format. It is highly resistant to many things. It has its own weaknesses such as fires, transportation cost, humidity, ink oxidation, etc., etc. Should we print everything is a hard question. Because it creates another ecological issues. You need a hell lot of papers (and electricity to produce the paper) to keep and *print* all these materials. The cost of printing and the cost of keeping are highly dependent on electricity too. :) Not an easy solution.

    I think there is another drama which is plaguing our societies: the will to keep everything. Things disappear and we have to (re)learn to cope with that. Let it go. Dave… ;)

    1. # Paper based Publishing industry

      Yes, of course. My reaction was triggered by the quotation out of context in your tweet (the drama with Twitter is that in 140 characters, quotations are always out of context). When I read “there is not future in printed books”, I thought that the future of electronic books was less than obvious too.

      # Multiple copies

      Yes, of course (again). Multiple copies that are not distributed are useless. Archives must be distributed and that’s the goal of Owark.

      # Digital/Physical world

      We cannot print everything, but it might not be very wise to print nothing either ;) …

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