Bookmarked Decades of history could be ‘erased from Australia’s memory’ as tape machines disappear, archivists warn – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

In the age of the 4K smart TV, audio-visual companies are looking forward to ever-greater digital innovations. Few are looking back at the cavalcade of tape formats that came before, which never had the same desirable aesthetic that made film so enduringly popular.

Mr Ficker says it is “very unlikely” that archives around the world could raise the capital to have tape machines manufactured again, even if they worked together.

But he said he “hadn’t written it off”, because “if that’s what it takes, will then we will be pursuing those strategies”.

He also suggests future digital innovations might make it possible to read the data off magnetic tapes in a different way, using software to reconstruct the images.

James Elton discusses the demise of tape machines and the memories kept on them. Lauren Young also provides an interesting take on magnetic tape. This reminds me of Celia Coffa’s keynote at Digicon15 Digital Stories and Future Memories.
Bookmarked The story of handwriting in 12 objects (

A new exhibition traces the remarkable evolution of writing. Cameron Laux picks 12 highlights offering insights into one of humanity’s greatest achievements.

Cameron Laux reports on a new exhibition involving 100 objects which capture the development of writing over time. Laux documents 12 of the items to demonstrate change over time. I wonder if the last item in the exhibition involves the end of handwriting? This collection also reminds me of the BBC Radio 4 series from a few years ago A History of the World in 100 Objects.
Replied to |k| clippings: 2019-04-14 — baby was a star (Twitter)

A story that truly deserves the adjective “extraordinary” in many ways: who the book collector was, the volume and variety he collected, that he read and summarized the books…and that some of that index survived. → ‘Extraordinary’ 500-year-old library catalogue reveals books lost to time Thanks, Reader K! ※ Linked within that story is another worth reading: How Christopher Columbus’s son built ‘the world’s first search engine’

This makes me wonder about the fragility of archiving, especially after reading Damon Krukowski’s recent reflections associated with MySpace. What happens when someone finds something like a zipdisk in 500 years time? Let alone in 50 years time.
Bookmarked I dare you to read this and still feel good about tipping (Washington Post)

If you knew the history of tipping, you’d never see it the same way again.

Roberto Ferdman and Saru Jayaraman discuss tipping and its origins. Jayaraman discusses the two dollar hourly rate that waiters are often paid, how there is a confusion for who they are working for and the association with slavery. This practice is so deeply rooted as was demonstrated in a post from Jason Kottke.


Our research shows that all of that sexual harassment—from customers, coworkers, and management—can be traced back to this whole culture of forcing women to make their income based on pleasing the customer. To me it’s all summed up by this one quote from Texas, where they earn $2.13 an hour before tips. This waitress was speaking at a Senate press conference, and she said: ‘Senators, what would it be like for you if your income depended on the happiness of the people you serve? Because my income depends on the people I serve, I have to put up with a guy groping by butt every day so I can feed my four year old son every day.’

via Daniel Goldsmith

Bookmarked The surprisingly radical politics of Dr Seuss by an author (

Seuss himself didn’t necessarily see a huge disconnect between what he was doing during the war and what he did afterwards. “Children’s literature as I write it and as I see it is satire to a great extent – satirizing the mores and the habits of the world,” he is quoted in Cott’s book.

Fiona MacDonald takes a look at the political side of Dr. Suess’ work. This includes commentary from another author/illustrator Art Spigelmen and discussion of Suess’ work on propaganda during World War II.
Liked How Telegraphs and Teletypes Influenced the Computer (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

We may not discuss our connectivity speed in baud anymore—not when we can measure data by the gigabits per second—but these points of evolution have clearly had an impact on what we, as modern computer users, actually got to use at the end of the day.

A trackpad is, of course, infinitely more functional than a straight key, but if you squint hard enough, maybe you’ll see the resemblance.

Bookmarked Why Do Americans Love Ice Cubes So much? (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

Why are ice cubes seemingly as American as unnecessary medical debt? Perhaps it’s all the hard work we used to put into acquiring all that ice back in the day.

Andrew Egan discusses the place and importance of ice in American history and the impact that it has had on the world today (7/11). I remember Steven Johnson discussing this in his book/series How We Got to Now: Six innovations that made the modern world.
Bookmarked Workplace OS History: IBM’s $2 Billion Microkernel of Failure (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

How IBM bet big on the microkernel being the next big thing in operating systems back in the ’90s—and spent billions with little to show for it.

Another interesting piece of technology history that has been simply incorporated into ever present.
Bookmarked Are we on the road to civilisation collapse? (

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us about the risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

In an article a part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, Luke Kemp unpacks the historical reasons that have contributed to the fall of past empires. These reasons include climate change, inequality, increasing complexity and demand on the environment. Although Kemp suggests there are reasons to be optimistic, he also warns that the connected nature of today’s civilization has made for a rungless ladder where any fall has the potential to be fatal.


Think of civilisation as a poorly-built ladder. As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we may have already reached this point of civilisational “terminal velocity”. Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent. Nuclear war in itself could result in an existential risk: either the extinction of our species, or a permanent catapult back to the Stone Age.

Bookmarked “The Linux of social media”—How LiveJournal pioneered (then lost) blogging (Ars Technica)

George RR Martin’s platform switch reminds us of an early blogging giant greatly changed.

This post provides an insight into the rise and fall of LiveJournal. Along with Dale Beran’s dive into 4chan, these posts provide an insight into some of the creative origins of the web.
Bookmarked Sunday Reading: The Birth of Tech (The New Yorker)

From The New Yorker’s archive, pieces from the early days of tech culture, when going online was a novelty.

This list of historical pieces on technology is one to come back and dive into. Another I teresting collection is Peter Skillen’s dive into early coding.

via Ian O’Byrne

Bookmarked MSX History: The Platform Microsoft Forgot (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

The MSX computer standard was big in both Japan and Brazil. But despite a sizable cult, it may be the most obscure part of Microsoft’s history. Here’s why.

This investigation of lost attempts at standards is another reminder of why the history of (ed)tech is so important. We have arrived at where we are based on the foundations and failings of the past.


It might seem strange, given what we know about MSX, to compare this system to Windows Phone, which was an American product through and through (albeit with the help of a failed Finnish acquisition).

To an outside observer, it might seem like the better comparison point for the MSX platform might be the Xbox, which like the MSX, is best known for its games.

But if you look a bit more closely at the structure of the platform, it becomes clear that MSX and Windows Phone actually share much more in common than at first glance. Each was an also-ran in its given market—MSX, while successful in Japan, was a relatively small player even there, with machines from NEC, Fujitsu, and Sharp proving more successful, even though these competitors were often proprietary. MSX was ultimately an early version of what Microsoft would later do on its more tightly controlled platforms, Windows Phone in particular.

Bookmarked What the earliest fragments of English reveal (

The earliest fragments of English reveal how interconnected Europe has been for centuries, finds Cameron Laux. He traces a history of the language through 10 objects and manuscripts.

This collection of historical artefacts is insightful both from the perspective of language, as well as the origins associated with each. It seems that every piece involves some element of luck as to how it survived that it makes you wonder the texts that have been lost over time and how this may impact our appreciation of the past.
Liked The Mapping of Massacres (The New Yorker)

Place names can be damning evidence of colonial history. On a map of Australia, you’ll see Murderers Flat, Massacre Inlet, Haunted Creek, and Slaughterhouse Gully.

Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872 – A project by Lyndall Ryan and her team at Newcastle University are digitally documenting the frontier massacres that occurred in the settlement of Australia. There have been calls to have these conflicts recognised in the War Memorial in Canberra as an example of frontier warfare. The Guardian have used this dataset to create an interactive map as a way of telling stories long silenced. For a history of maps themselves, Clive Thompson’s has written a post for the Smithsonian.
Bookmarked The Rise and Demise of RSS by an author (Motherboard)

Before the internet was consolidated into centralized information silos, RSS imagined a better way to let users control their online personas.

Sinclair Target unpacks the history associated with RSS, including the parts played by those like Dave Winer and Aaron Swartz. This includes the forking to ATOM. Having come to RSS during the demise I was not aware of the background, especially in regards to ATOM, associated with the standard. (Although Cory Doctorow argues that Target focuses too much on the micro rather than macro.) Its interesting to consider that its demise stems from the rise of social media. Ironically, I came to RSS dissatisfied with social media. Also, I wonder what happens if social medias promise fails? A return to RSS or is there something else again in the development of the web?

I response, Colin Devroe argues that we need to stop talking about RSS and instead call it subscribing. Here I am reminded of Doug Belshaw’s work with ‘dead metaphors‘.

Doug Belshaw on dead metaphors

Chris Aldrich highlights SubToMe as a means of subscribing, while Jeremy Cherfas shares the way in which News Blur allows users to train the algorithm associated with multiple subscriptions.