FOR THE WEEK OF OCT. 16, 2006
Time capsule for our age goes digital
Through user-generated content, Yahoo wants to "capture the voices, images and stories of the online global community." Ask students to discuss how their daily newspaper mixes professionally gathered content with readers' voices to accomplish the same goal for local and regional communities.
Yahoo is assembling a vast archive of unindexed materials in 10 broad categories. Assign the class to list benefits and drawbacks of that resource for future historians or students . . . and then to compare the digital time capsule's value to traditional information sources such as books, magazines, newspapers and online reference tools.
Technology and Internet news appears throughout the newspaper, including in lifestyle, business, technology and general news sections. Have students see how many other reports focusing on the web, computers or personal electronics they can find in one day's issue.
There’s a modern twist to the long tradition of leaving meaningful mementos for future generations in a sealed time capsule, which used to be placed in a vault or buried behind a building’s cornerstone. Now anyone can send words, pictures, videos, sounds and drawings to Yahoo Inc. for a digital time capsule representing life in 2006.
Submissions to what Yahoo calls “this first-ever collection of electronic anthropology ” can be seen and sent at timecapsule.yahoo.com. The company plans to seal about 5 terabytes of data -- equivalent to the text of roughly 5 million books -- until 2020, the firm's 25th anniversary. When the 30-day submission period ends Nov. 8, the digital archive will be stored by the Smithsonian Institution's Folkways Recordings project and the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico City, with backup copies kept by Yahoo and others.
More than 25,000 materials divided into 10 categories have flowed in from around the world since the project was announced Oct. 10, including poems, prayers, family snapshots, statements about beloved TV shows and a tune from the Boston punk band Darkbuster. In an earlier Internet time capsule project. Forbes.com collected more than 140,000 e-mails from readers to be stored for 20 years – when they’ll be resent to each original address.
Yahoo says: “We’re trying to create a shared digital mosaic of our time by allowing users to define what's important to them.'' -- Bill Gannon, editorial director.
Skeptics say: The project is a marketing stunt that assumes data stored on 2006 software will be accessible in 2020.
Sample submission: “It is always possible to reach your dreams, even when they are at the top of the highest mountain.” – Woman from San José, Costa Rica, pictured at 12,529-foot summit
Front Page Talking Points Archive