Email, Digital Photography, and the Hole in our Historical Record

Date: 5/2/2017
Category: Blog Post
Tags: Email,history,Information Overload,photography
Source Author: Nathan Zeldes
Source Date: 4/30/2017
Source Name: Nathan Zeldes’s blog
Source URL: Link to Source Article or Site

Five millennia of written record are about to grind to a halt. The fault, of course, is with our marvelous digital inventions: email, instant messaging, social media, and so on. So much better than a posted letter on paper, or papyrus, or parchment, or clay – as fast as an electric current or radio wave, cheap, reliable… but totally ephemeral. Clay tablets survive for millennia; paper can, absent major disaster, stay legible for many centuries. Email disappears, most of it as soon as you hit DELETE, but even the rest, the messages you archive in folders, will not survive for more than a decade or two.

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