Memory is an important part of resilience. Alexander Rose writes about various ideas of creating a Manual for Civilization from the The Long Now Blog:
Today we received another email about creating a record of humanity and technology that would help restart civilization. …
My bet is that the reality of watching your civilization (and population) collapse is likely one of the worst things anyone could experience. I am also not so sure the problem is just knowing how to remake a technology. For instance after the fall of the great Egyptian, Mayan, and Roman empires we had evidence and examples of their engineering achievements all around us. But aqueducts or senate buildings are worthless without a society around them to maintain, contextualize and protect them. …
In any case I thought I would create this blog post which I will try and keep updated as these proposals and efforts come to me (and hopefully come to fruition). I will also list some of the resources that I usually refer to when I get these inquiries. Please note these resources are extremely biased toward the English language, the United States and Western culture. Also note that one of the first things that comes up when creating any compendium style work is the issue of copyright. It might sound ridiculous that you might worry about copyright in a doomsday manual, but if you want to publish it and get it into peoples hands before the apocalypse, you are going to have to deal with it in some way. Please feel free to use the comments field to make suggestions and pointers and I will integrate them here as well.
Projects that are attempts in this direction:
- The Rosetta Project: A multi-millennial micro-etched disk with a record of thousands of the worlds languages.
- Westinghouse Time Capsules: Two time capsules (they actually coined the term for this project) by Westinghouse buried at Worlds Fair sites, one in 01939 and the other 01965 to be recovered in 5000 years. They also did the very smart thing of making a “Book of Record” and an above ground duplicate of the contents on display.
- The Human Document Project: A German project to create a record of humanity that will last one million years.
- Crypt of Civilization: A airtight chamber located at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia. The crypt consists of preserved artifacts scheduled to be opened in the year 8113 AD.
- The Voyager Record: The Voyager Golden Record are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or far future humans, who may find them.
- Georgia Guidestones: The four granite Guidestones are covered in inscriptions written in 8 major languages that describe the tenets of their imagined Age of Reason.
- (added) Doomsday Chests by Noah Raford
- (added) The Forever Book an idea by Kevin Kelly
One thought on “Building civilizational memory”
This reminds me of cartoonist Ryan North’s tongue-in-cheek attempt to make a T-shirt that would serve this purpose (he framed it as being for time-travelers going into the distant past, but it would work for surviving a post-apocalyptic future): http://www.topatoco.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=TO&Product_Code=QW-CHEATSHEET&Category_Code=QW