Monday, February 25, 2008

Brewster Kahle at USF

Brewster Kahle gave an excellent talk at USF last Thursday as part of the Davies Forum. His mission is universal access to all knowledge: he wants to create a library like the (former) library of Alexandria, but digitized and online. He showed us, medium by medium, that this it is doable and not crazy to think we can digitize all texts (in the broad sense). The Internet Archive is that library, which stores hundreds of thousands of digitized books (and other written texts), audio files, moving images, web pages, and software. He successfully convinced me that it is possible, but I still don't know if open content (which the Internet Archive promotes) can beat Google (which uses proprietary formats).

I am excited about all the Old Time Radio files they have. I love OTR. It's engaging on an entertainment level and fascinating on a historical level. Lots of cigarettes and war and blatant sexism. The mysteries are the best.

But back to the talk, he answered the question I posed in an earlier blog post (about how easily digital media can be erased) without me even having to ask it. They back up all their stuff on servers far far away (in Alexandria!), so when a giant earthquake puts San Francisco underwater, the Internet Archive will still exist. Excellent.


Kelly said...

I have not heard of this Old Time Radio, but it sounds great. Thanks for the tip!

Kelly said...

PS- Was reading Henry Jenkins' blog, found this, and thought of you.