Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Did ancient Egyptians Tweet?

One of the enduring mysteries of human civilisation is the question of how the world “forgot” about hieroglyphics. Despite the fact that they were used by the most advanced civilisation of its time, for hundreds of years, people seem to have moved on and simply forgotten to take a translation with them. Without the discovery of the Rosetta Stone (which you can read about on Wikipedia if you don’t already know about it) we’d still be in the dark.*

That could never happen now could it? Well what happens if people stop reading / writing books, and start communicating only through Facebook updates and 140 character tweets. Evolution will see us to a point where an ever decreasing number of people actually produce any thoughts / words of their own, and everyone else simply retweets, or worse still, just clicks on the Like button.

And what happens then when for some reason (EMP, Solar flare, who knows) all that data is lost?

Will archaeologists look back on the early internet years as a new Dark Ages – where, despite an explosion in the volume of communications, very little of value survives?

Just a random thought that came up in office conversation today*, but it could happen… couldn’t it?

* Our thinking in the office was that papyrus had a similar effect on the Egyptians - they all upgraded from sandstone tablets to the fancy new "paper", only for someone to accidentally burn down the entire national archives.


Gaz said...

With that in mind, you should get this prescient warning carved out on a stone tablet.

Hugo Rodger-Brown said...

I'm already using the Amazon Mechanical Turk to farm out the work. If you have anything you'd like to add to my Granite Archive, just let me know.