Humanities lecture explores issues in digital age

News – The Daily Aztec

Jacob Sisneros, Assistant News EditorJanuary 28, 2016

A Google executive known as one of the “fathers of the Internet” and an art historian with a heavy background in the humanities came together Tuesday, Jan. 26 to warn about what they called the digital dark age at the 22nd annual John Adams Lecture in the Humanities held in Montezuma Hall.
Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist for Google, and Bruce Cole, an art historian who served eight years as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, explained that the problem inherent in rapidly evolving technology is that data bits created in the future will have trouble being interpreted if the original technology is not around to read them.
“My concern is that digital formats may not be preserved over thousands of years and so even if you have a digital object and you can read the bits, you don’t know how to interpret them,” Cerf said.
Cerf told the crowd of around 400 students and faculty that older types of data storage, such as floppy disks, VHS tapes and old hard drives, are already becoming hard to retrieve data from today.
“We know history because we have artifacts, especially writings, that we have been able to preserve … and we need to make sure we don’t lose our ability to preserve history in these forms even if it is born digital,” Cerf said.
Cole said while he was reluctant to adopt the Internet at first, he believes it represents a new way the humanities can be delivered and researched.
Richard Leary, a sophomore classics major, said he didn’t realize how much the humanities need the Internet to keep things accessible.
Raymond Vera Cruz, a senior sociology major, said one thing he took away from the event was even though the possibilities seem endless with technology, there are limitations as well.
Cerf also …

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