How Can Knowledge Be Preserved In Case Of Collapse?

Adam Rothstein on preserving tools and specialized knowledge (such as science and engineering) in case of a collapse:

Any number of aspiring futurists, science-fiction authors, preppers and Dark Mountaineers can present us with a point-by-point plan of how to survive a species-threatening cataclysm, the true effectiveness of which can only be judged in practice. So let us leave survival up to those who will need to hack it, and instead ask what can we do now to make things a bit easier for our post-apocalyptic children of the future?

We might bury useful tools everywhere in a strategy resonant with Philip K. Dick’s The Penultimate Truth, to make surprising archaeological Easter Eggs of power saws and streaming media tablets to the future’s struggling humankind. But without cellular data contracts and extension cords, these might not prove very useful. Far better to provide them with knowledge, argues Grassie, in order to kick start their inevitable journey back through scientific progress to re-learn the things we will lose. You can give a post-human descendant species-branch a CD-ROM and they can surf Encarta for a day. Or you can teach a post-human descendant species-branch to write objective secondarily-sourced encyclopedia articles, and they can have their own Wikipedia-esque debates about editing procedures for the rest of their brutish and short lives.

Full Story: The State: Satellites of History

Rothstein goes on to note some attempts to preserve knowledge for the future, and questions whether the endeavor matters.


  1. The only social institution with a proven ability to endure for thousands of years is religion. Long ago I read an essay suggesting we need to start an atomic religion, so our distant prodigy will think they should stay away from nuclear waste sites even if they don’t know the scientific reason why they should.

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