October 11, 2006

Yahoo! Time Capsule

This is huge, or potentially so. Yahoo! has launched what they are calling an “electronic anthropology project”—a digital time capsule of images, stories, video, audio, and artwork, all submitted by Yahoo! users. As of this posting, the project has collected more than 4000 objects from nearly 3000 people in just over a day. When the capsule closes on November 8th, the collection will be transfered for long term preservation with the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings project. Until then you can explore it through a very cool Flash interface. By any measure this a very welcome expansion of the practice of online collecting … even if Yahoo!’s claim that “this is the first time that digital data will be gathered and preserved for historical purposes” is patently and outrageously false.


  1. Hi !

    I have studied the time capsules idea/phenomenon for the last 2 years. Yahoo’s time capsule carry the same flaw as any ‘generalized’ time capsule. What is the value in this? By default every time capsule is flawed as it’s content is edited. The second largest flaw is there is no individual recipient which creates messages that are trivial in nature.

    To really have value in a time capsule, there needs to be a clear contributor and recipient. A parent-child is the perfect example.

    Why all this? I was writing a journal for my daughter and I couldn’t write what I wanted since she might read it at age 5. Thus I created http://www.electronictimecapsule.com

    I applaude Yahoo’s initiative…althoug I think they could have brought the time capsule concept to the 21st century.

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