I have recently returned from the depths of southern Arizona where I think it’s safe to report that the citizens there are a part of a large military black-ops project to develop the first super soldier resistant to solar radiation and heat.
Back in the summer of ’89, I met with a design school recruiter. He wanted me to attend Al Collins School of Design in Tempe, Arizona. When I asked him about the heat he shrugged and said something about dry heat not being as bad as humid heat, blah, blah, blah. He was right but that doesn’t mean it’s still not hotter than hell.
How people live in southern Arizona is beyond me, but they do, voluntarily, without a gun to their head.
Now before you rush to comment with the words “air” and “conditioning” you need to know that people have lived in that area for centuries, long before the advent of air conditioning, iced drinks, and summer whites — which would have made for a brilliant edition of National Geographic.
The Hohokam, as they are called, made the Casa Grande Valley their home, creating an advanced prehistoric civilization that included ball courts, massive irrigation system channeled off the Colorado River, and the Big House, or Casa Grande which is also the first ever National Monument.
Personally I think ‘casa’ really stands for ‘hot’ and ‘grande’ means ‘big time’ but when I suggested this to the Park Ranger, he told me I should probably sit down while he yelled for a med-kit and water.
Built in 1300 AD and standing three stories tall with walls three feet thick, the Big House was made from clay and timbers carried across the high desert floor from some sixty miles away. The mostly intact remains serve as a monolithic testament to the civilization that created it seven-hundred years ago. It is in fact the original This Old House.
While the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans may have the Hohokam beat when it comes to civil engineering and societal accomplishments, I was still very impressed by the structure, protecting me from the yellow cancer god while I made sure to keep a safe distance from any snakes and scorpions — stupid snakes and scorpions.
Mostly smooth to the touch, the giant artifact made me wonder if the work my friends and I do today will ever be held in high regard seven-hundred years from now. While I kind of doubt that anything we do invididually will earn such longevity there is strength in numbers.
The Internet Archive was built to serve just that purpose, collecting a good portion of the Internet for future research, posterity, etc. through voluntary participation. Sadly the non-commercial service has started to come under legal attack, and I fear this is merely the beginning.
“Beyond its utility for Internet historians, the Web page database, searchable with a form called the Wayback Machine, is also routinely used by intellectual property lawyers to help learn, for example, when and how a trademark might have been historically used or violated.
That is what brought the Philadelphia law firm of Harding Earley Follmer & Frailey to the Wayback Machine two years ago. The firm was defending Health Advocate, a company in suburban Philadelphia that helps patients resolve health care and insurance disputes, against a trademark action brought by a similarly named competitor.
In preparing the case, representatives of Earley Follmer used the Wayback Machine to turn up old Web pages – some dating to 1999 – originally posted by the plaintiff, Healthcare Advocates of Philadelphia. Last week Healthcare Advocates sued both the Harding Earley firm and the Internet Archive, saying the access to its old Web pages, stored in the Internet Archive’s database, was unauthorized and illegal.”
The Internet isn’t the cure for cancer, but it’s advent and adoption into our culture is history I think we will want to preserve, copyright law be damned. I am hopeful that I speak for all of us when I say that it will be a cold day in Arizona before we let some petty legal claim chip away at preserving our work.
If the Hohokam can build a mud skyscraper that has lasted for seven-hundred years then surely we can find a way to save the Archive and make it last for at a few hundred years — perhaps it’s time to create the first ever National Digital Monument.