Friday, June 06, 2008

Peak Data

The end of cheap oil means the end of cheap electricity, and raises the prospect that all this awesome digital information will be lost. At least, so argues Debra Sloan, who sees a renewed role for libraries:

Librarians will have to locate and provide information about local resources for food, medicine, travel, and shelter. They will be required to identify local talent and experts and list plants native to the area. They will carry information about the environmental needs of the region, its transportation and the source of the community's water, and whether it is healthy. Libraries will have to maintain current travel information (walking, bus, car, golf cart, etc.) and knowledge about local land use. Librarians will also identify and address barriers to information access. They will facilitate local access to people developing alternative means of transportation, energy, and more. They will keep track of available housing and whether there is enough of it. Armed with data about the resources that make communities function, librarians can begin to develop an information, communication, and referral system that addresses the unique needs and assets of their region.

See also Adrian Atkinson, Cities After Oil:
Most of what today is considered to be 'information' will disappear—for three reasons. Firstly, much information today is only available electronically and with the failure of electrical systems this will disappear through the illegibility of electronic memories. Secondly, most of what is deemed to be useful today by way of knowledge and information will lose its relevance and so be abandoned. And finally, making a living through developing and processing knowledge will become a luxury in so far as most human time will return to manual work in fields and workshops. One can imagine, if there is some planning for an energy- (and knowledge-) parsimonious future, that some centres (universities or whatever) will survive and these will rescue and store information and go on to recover or re-learn knowledge relevant to the emergent circumstances

Both quotes (with links to full articles) appear in the blog CityStates, via LISNews.

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