Sunday, October 3, 2010

Technology and the Future

It doesn't matter what I am studying, I will always find something to distract me. Today it was technology and the future. As I sat in the library thinking about some geocaching, I began to think of an idea for a "travel bug" that I could put in my first regular sized cache.

I decided it would be really cool to buy a 2 gig flash drive to use for the bug. On the first part I would put a text document with directions and the purpose of the bug. There would then be folders labeled by Country. Inside each country folder, sub-folders with state names would be created and then further sub-folders labeled by cities.

The directions would be something like this: Please create a new text file and title it with your username and home. In the text file write a little bit about yourself and about the area in which you live, whether it be your city, county, or state.

The purpose: In one aspect this is like a time capsule. It is also a chance for learning about other people and communities. Each time the bug is found a new entry would be saved inside the respective folder and the next people who find it can read it.

Then I began thinking about the use as a time capsule type thing. What if the earth is around for another 5,000 years and someone finds this flash drive. Would they know what to do with it? Computers as we know them might cease to exist. And what about energy?

Even if scientists had found old computers that would still function, would the forms of energy still be the same? Would they be able to run a computer to see the information on the computer or external memory devices?

What will scientists be able to know about so much of our culture and our civilization during this time. That information is stored on thousands of computers. Devices which require power. Devices that require other devices to function. Files corrupt. Water destroys the systems. Dirt isn't good for it. So in 5,000 years, after it has faced all these elements and new technologies have developed how much would be availible to study our history?

The example I will leave you with: 3.5 inch floppy disks. You remember those large square, plastic-covered disks. the ones that you slipped inside a slot on the front of a computer. The things that, if left in the computer, caused a delay in the boot-up sequence. The things that would hold 1 picture if you are lucky with today's cameras. The things that were replaced by CD's which are gradually being replaced with flash drives. When is the last time you used one?

So when all that time passes how will things change? How will they be different? Will they use electricity as we know it? Will they have power chords? Will computers have keyboards or be all voice control? Will they be big or small? How will information be stored? What information will be available about our society for future generations?

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