Ashes to Ashes, and Rising Therefrom

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bill@geektrap.com

I just watched a video about some folks who are working to restore the hardware and software used on the Apollo missions from 50 years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JTa1RQxU04. It's really quite amazing work. Having spent my share of time writing and debugging assembly code on the 8080 and Z-80, I'm really enjoying watching your process. Something that this makes me think about (and which has wandered around my mind off and on for many years) is how things that are of vital importance one day are considered worthless some time later, and later still are highly sought-after as rare, valuable artifacts. This applies equally to books, video and audio recordings, clay tablets, papyrus scrolls, software listings, and computer hardware. I always wonder how this happens. I suppose things are treated as having very little value because, "they're everywhere", or "everyone knows (this information)". Then, life and entropy proceed to eradicate the objects and the information, until one day someone stumbles across a reference that piques their interest, and starts digging for information and reconstructing things. Entire cities and civilizations have vanished from humanity's knowledge, and are often known to have existed because of an offhand reference in a document, or a strange pattern found in a satellite photo or ground scan. How does that work? One day, hundreds or thousands of people live and work in a place, and sometime later, it's all gone. Sometimes it's war, or famine, or disease or natural disaster, I suppose. And maybe sometimes resources are depleted and people leave looking for more fertile land, and eventually everyone is gone, and through the generations, surviving descendants forget what they've been told by their elders. The lesson is, I suppose, that life and everything involved in it is ephemeral, and things we cherish and ideas we cling to today will be so much detritus before long. I'm not sure what to do with this information except to hope that we can remember and learn from past (and current) mistakes. This is especially true today, with COVID19 reshaping how we live and work, and our awful "president" cowering behind fences in the White House while cities tear themselves apart over racism and police brutality. How much of what we do today will be remembered by future generations?


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