Friday, June 25, 2010

The Future and Library Science

Take a look at this unbelievable series made by the Mississippi public broadcasting station in 1985 (the year Marty McFly also went Back To The Future). In 2123, humanity is being driven to extinction by smog and a race of aliens called the Wipers, whose function in life is to disrupt communication and destroy stored information! Humans decide to evacuate earth. In this incredible first part of the first episode, a team of human information specialists, led by Ms. Bookheart, are securing the sum of human knowledge against the Wiper onslaught and, hopefully, for someone in the future to find.

Here is the first part of the second episode which features the Users, a technologically advanced race, that discovers the store of human knowledge and how they come to investigate it.

This prompts a few thoughts:
1. The historical perspective information storage and retrieval is amazing. Part of what is interesting is that the human librarians are using a computer for teaching or making lists or something, but not storage and retrieval. This makes sense when you see the Users, who are hip to retrieving information via computers.

2. I love the wonder and disbelief of the Users when they come across the book, a static mode of information storage. More than that, I love Aphos' haughty scorn at such primitive item. And more than that, I love when he is blindly groping at the concept of fiction to the point where he is confused about why mice can no longer speak.

3. It's kind of fun to imagine what we would to if we did have to leave Earth, or at least store all of the information we can currently access. The information on the internet is stored in computers in probably hundreds of thousands of places, and the access to that is governed by yet more computers. I know there are websites like, but how do you backup the One Machine?

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