Public libraries and recent computers

Time marches on, and it’s clear our computers are going to keep getting obsoleted by the manufacturers, leaving us unable to run software that doesn’t move along with them.

It’s as if you couldn’t read a book just because it was written 10 years ago. We don’t throw away vast amounts of knowledge every couple of decades anywhere other than tech.

We should do something to get systematic about preserving the ability to study and learn from software that was made in the past. Clearly software is going to be a long-lasting kind of literature. It’s time we take some steps to preserve access to it, not just locking it away in museums.

It would be great, for example, if I could go to the NY Public Library and get some time on a Macintosh running System 9, so I could check prior art of some software I wrote that only ran on that OS, that never made the transition to Mac OS X.

Pretty sure the libraries don’t have the money for this, but perhaps this is something the people who made billions off the software legacy could help with here, put something back for future generations?


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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