Your next digital storage solution? A salt mine.

To see a world in a grain of salt.
Listen6:11

A century from now, what will happen to all the digital information we have stored? Think about all those documents and photos you have, just sitting there in digital piles on USB sticks or DVDs or even floppy disks!

Now imagine that, on a much bigger scale. Formats change. Companies in the cloud go out of business. Social networks close up shop.

On Spark we've talked about lots of ideas for how to deal with this - which, by the way, archivists are FREAKING OUT ABOUT. But one approach we never dreamed of was storing information...on engraved ceramic tablets, deep in a salt mine in Austria. Go figure! It just never occurred to us.

Martin Kunze
 But that's exactly what
Martin Kunze has in mind with what he calls the greatest time capsule ever. "The Memory of Mankind project is the idea to preserve our stories for the next generations or for a remote future." Martin says.
Martin wanted to pick a location for the archive that would stand the test of time. So he chose the Hallstatt salt mine in Austria -- one of the oldest salt mines in the world.
The salt mine in Hallstatt, Austria is perfect for storing the tablets because it protects against erosion and flooding. (memory-of-mankind.com)

Martin is also a ceramic artist. He decided that ceramic tablets would be an ideal medium for a longtime archive. He got the idea for how to print information on the ceramic tablets from a technique that's used to print logos on teacups. The ceramic tablets can store both text and images.

The content of the MOM archive will be split into three sections: Common Content such as daily newspaper editorials, Specific Content from institutions like universities and museums, and Individual Content like personal stories. 
A ceramic token is the "treasure map" for locating the MOM archive. Everybody who contributes to the project is given one. (memory-of-mankind.com)
Everyone who participates in the project will also receive a special ceramic token. But it's more than just a souvenir -- it's a combination treasure map and future ticket. Martin's hope is that the Memory of Mankind project will offer a way to safely preserve our past and serve as an objective record of our time. 

And speaking of preservation, one of the great resources of our digital life is the Internet Archive. The non-profit aims to keep a record of the history of the internet. It has saved 279 billion web pages and counting. It also maintains a huge library of free culture: software, music...movies, including the Prelinger collection of public domain ephemeral films. When you hear old-timey film clips on Spark that's usually where they're from.

We've spoken with folks from the Archive many times over the years on Spark. This past week, they announced that they're going to create the Internet Archive of Canada, which is, essentially, a backup copy of the collection here in Canada. According to their blog, the move is a response to the US election. They are, they say, "preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions" and "serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase."

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