This is my dumping ground for quotes and other stuff relating to the wonderful world of digital & communications.
Wikipedia has another, related lesson to teach the traditionalists at Unesco: Change is not necessarily antagonistic to preservation. That false assumption has put the World Heritage Committee at odds with the very people whose heritage Unesco claims to support. For example, the people of Djenné, Mali, whose mud-brick houses were inscribed on the list in 1988, have ever since been bullied by heritage professionals to avoid making alterations that would facilitate modern amenities like showers and tile floors. One irate local compares a room in his neighbor’s dirt house to a grave. Unesco’s static concept of physical heritage is exterminating the evolving intangible heritage of the Djenné people.
Wikipedia protects the past without impeding the future. That’s the genius of the View History tab, which allows anyone to browse and compare every single version of an entry going back to 2001. Of course, multiple versions of the physical world cannot be physically preserved. But if all World Heritage sites were virtualized like Wikipedia, the physical places could continue to change with the people. The mud huts of Djennécould be preserved as three-dimensional models, augmented with historical and cultural information contributed by both archaeologists and locals, wiki-style. Layers of alteration to the houses could be digitally recorded and accessed by anyone anywhere. Rapid prototyping technology means the huts could even be printed out and physically explored. Were world heritage wikified, people’s homes would no longer be reduced to graves, sacrificed to outmoded Unesco principles. Djenné would not become a moribund ghost-town-cum-tourist-attraction like Iwami Ginzan.