Re: Information & Power /Alexandria library

Michael S. Lorrey (
Sun, 02 May 1999 22:31:26 -0400

Ross A. Finlayson wrote:
> The biggest threat to the entirety of regular Internet WWW functionality is DNS,
> in terms of global connectivity, although any size of DNS names might be cached
> anywhere.

The entire DNS database is updated regularly on every web server at every ISP, so there is not threat to its being destroyed. Thats why they are called name servers. When you request a page from a site, your ISP's webserver looks up the DNS and its corresponding IP address, then queries the network for the data from that IP address. The routers take that query and send it to the next closer router, etc. The system does not query network solutions' registry every time.

> For all works in the Library of Congress to be transcribed into digital form and
> made available on the Internet would be a wonderful thing, and would do much to
> expand the breadth of human knowledge, and I might even term it a just use of
> tax dollars. To be sure, there are copyright issues involved, but any number of
> uncopyrighted works or those whose copyrights had expired could be put online.
> If one can go to a library and check out a copyrighted work for free, why not
> over the Internet? It will certainly enhance inter-library loan when more
> material is available for electronic request and delivery.

Use tax dollars to pay for the wholesale ripoff of millions of people's copyright rights? I don't think so. It will have to be a pay as you go system, with micropayments for each use of copyrighted material.

> Besides space debris, data overload and overflow is a very large problem. There
> is very much. Early indexes of the net, for example, the Yahoo! server on
> akebono, had wise notions of categorizing and cataloging large numbers of
> Internet documents, and turned it into companies very high price-to-earnings
> ratios.

As long as storage media technologies continue to expand, and the speed of the processors processing the search index requests continue to grow, there will be no problem with overload and overflow. Developing filters for properly analysing lare amounts of data is a growth industry and shows no sign of abating.

> Besides everything on paper, there is a huge amount of data on crumbling
> magnetic tapes. The federal archives do tend to preserve that which is
> important, but much data that might not seem so today is lost.

Most information on tapes is raw data, lists of names, numbers, etc. Magnetic tapes, stored properly, do not crumble or otherwise degrade easily. I am still using 9 track magnetic tapes that are older than I am on a regular basis for list processing operations.

> Such a catastrophe as befell the great Western store of accumulated knowledge
> more than 2,000 years ago could not very well occur today, unless the face of
> the planet was razed.

On the contrary, several dozen high altitude, high flux nukes would EMP out much of our accumulated knowledge, which is why most government repositories are now built underground.

Mike Lorrey