The Rosetta Project is dedicated to exploring options for long-term archiving of valuable knowledge. Their first attempt resulted in the Rosetta Disk, which included over 13,000 pages of information designed to preserve the world’s languages etched microscopically on a three inch diameter nickel disk. Now a similar archive is available in a version that’s small enough to wear.
This wearable version, like the original Rosetta Disk has two sides. One side has instructions in eight different languages and scripts (Bahasa Indonesia, English, Hindi, Mandarin, Modern Standard Arabic, Spanish, Swahili, and Russian). The instructions translate into English as “Languages of the world: This is an archive of over 1,000 human languages assembled in the year 02016 C.E. Magnify 100 times to find over 1,000 pages of language documentation.” Each instruction starts at a human-eye readable size, and then spirals inward around a globe graphic, ending at the microcopic scale. This indicates to the reader “find something to magnify this with, and there is more.”
The other side of the pendant contains the archive, with over 1,000 microscopic pages. While the smaller size of the disk is an advantage for portability, it imposed a new constraint of having less surface space that the archive contents can occupy. So to keep the information or “pages” in the archive at the size where they can be read with optical magnification, we needed to fit roughly 1000 or fewer of them on the disk. The original Rosetta Disk has over 1,500 languages and 13,000 pages of information, so this meant we needed to include fewer languages, fewer pages for each language, or some combination of the two. Yet constraints breed creativity, and we chose to meet this new challenge by altering the contents somewhat, which now include:
- The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (327 languages)
- Swadesh vocabulary lists assembled by the PanLex Project (719 languages)
- “The Clock of the Long Now” by Stewart Brand
- Updated diagrams for the 10,000 Year Clock
Of course, there is a price to be paid for the privilege of becoming a walking language archive. You can get your own wearable Rosetta disk with a donation of $1000 or more to the Long Now Foundation while supplies last.
(via Laughing Squid)
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