Posted by Marieke Guy on 15th November 2010
“The policy is designed to facilitate the preservation of the encyclopedia by a transition to non-electronic media in an orderly, time-sensitive manner or, if events dictate otherwise, the preservation of the encyclopedia by other means.“
It starts off by saying when the policy will be implemented – imminent societal collapse e.g. limited nuclear exchange, pandemic, hypercane, supervolcano, the rapid onset of a climatic change or other global ecological disaster. Or an imminent extinction level event e.g. global thermonuclear war, asteroid impact, global revenant epidemic, stellar gamma ray burst, etc.
OK so now you are starting to wonder if this is a serious thing….It sounds like the content of a blockbuster movie!
So it’s a bit of a joke and filed under Wikipedia humor. Nevertheless the data preservation techniques and procedures are definitely of interest.
“It is suggested that editors print as many articles as possible, with due regard to any personal safety concerns that may be faced in these extraordinary events. However laborious this approach may seem, editors are asked to bear in mind that transfer to electronic media, such as CD, DVD or memory stick, while quicker, would defeat the purpose of this policy.“
Once again we are back to the more secure preservation format – paper!
The policy goes on to discuss the type of articles to save given that there are currently 3 million in Wikipedia:
“While articles that would be of immediate utility in the changed world circumstances, such as animal husbandry and carpentry, should be amongst those articles that every editor should have in their archives, consideration should be given to the preservation of articles of high cultural significance or of a more esoteric nature.“
The proposed plan is that editors and archivist all print off and store as many random articles as they can and then later on they pool their resources in an attempt to recreate Wikipedia.
What a relief to hear that an “alternative strategy will be undertaken at the Wikimedia server facility. On the implementation of the TEMP protocol, a laser etched version of Wikipedia will be created using plates of a resillient alloy to store minaturized versions of every page“.
The policy goes into more detail over the preservation approaches that can be taken if exstinction is nigh – “data shall be transmitted from the world’s radio telescopes to the 300 nearest stars and to the centre of the galaxy for as long as possible”.
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, leaves us with a final thought.
“While the light of humanity may flicker and die, we go gently into this dark night, comforted in the knowledge that someday Wikipedia shall take its rightful place as part of a consensus-built Galactic Encyclopedia, editable by all sentient beings.“