Someone asked, looking at the statues in the Greek and Roman section of the Met, why there were so many bodies without heads, and heads without bodies. Turns out there was a time when Christians took a fancy to knocking the heads off of statues. Power shifted, paradigms shifted– Christianity moved from the margin to the center; from a form of atheism to the primary form of theism.
There’s a particular humanity and sense of personality that is still transmitted from these faces. A connection is still possible, even across the centuries. These artifacts, even with the ravages of time, radiate meaning. Contrast that with the digital artifact, once corrupted– it becomes unreadable.
Imagine a culture that encoded all of its artifacts in digital media. Then think about a power shift where the new authority erased the digital artifacts of its predecessor. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for power to imagine its end. We assume that what exists will continue to exist. What tools will the archeologist of the future require to unearth the digital culture that we’re creating today?