A friend drops me a URL, www.keo.org. This is a strange, absorbing and rather French project, to fill a satellite with DVDs of messages and send it out on a 50,000-year orbit. When it comes back, our sons and daughters of the far future will pick up the capsule and read everything we leave for them. Worthwhile? As much as most things we do, and you can write your own essay to the future -- 6000 characters max -- on a form on the site. No charge and no censorship, but your message will also be made available -- anonymously -- to the people of the here and now.
As usual these days, I spent the first five minutes trying to work out whether the site was a fake or not. People are getting increasingly good at producing Web sites that seem to be that which they're not -- to find a particularly fine nest of misdirection, look for Landover Baptist online -- and if you're of a particular bent of mind it's very possible to get lost in a twisty maze of postmodernist thinking where nothing is as it appears.
Keo, however, looks like the real thing. The engineering seems sound, the lofty ideals are appropriately expressed and there's a fine touch of Gallic whimsy -- the satellite has wings, just because it should -- that puts the seal of authenticity on the project. I'll be contributing a message for 52002 AD: I suggest you do, too.
But perhaps they've missed a trick. If they stuffed a lot of recordable storage on there too, we could back our working data up to it over the radio as it speeds around the solar system. The ultimate off-site back-up, and I'm sure archaeologists of the distant tomorrow will be more interested in our daily concerns than our special messages. Imagine Time Team going through your hard disk... "Tony? Come and look at this. It's a pair of leopardskin print underpants..."
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