Interactive Disk

The Interactive Rosetta Disk v1.0  |  Use the shift + drag to zoom to selection. |  Help +

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Rosetta Disk 1.0 Browseable Archive

The Rosetta Disk Language Archive, Version 1 was completed by The Long Now Foundation in 02008. And now, by clicking in the window above, you can virtually browse and explore the contents of the disk, just as you would if you were looking at the micro-etched Rosetta Disk with a high-powered microscope. The viewer for the digital version of the Rosetta Disk on this DVD was built by Kurt Bollacker using the OpenLayers 2.5 map visualization framework.

This is a fully browseable digital version of The Rosetta Disk, and represents all the data that we micro-etched into both sides of a metal disk that can last several thousand years. The Rosetta Disk is a key to languages that is the first entry into The Long Now Foundation's 10,000-Year Library. The library is intended as an archive of human culture, knowledge and experience, and a companion artifact that will be the information corollary to the Clock of the Long Now. We also have the full contents of the Rosetta Browseable Archive available on DVD from the Long Now Museum store.

The Disk contains 13,000 pages of documentation on over 1,500 human languages – a collection of information that attests to a richness of human cultural and linguistic diversity in the year 02008. The materials in the collection were gathered from archives around the world, and include different kinds of language data: descriptions of the community of speakers, maps of their location, and information on writing systems and literacy. There is also grammatical information, including descriptions of sounds used in the language, how words and larger linguistic structures like sentences are formed, a basic vocabulary list (known as a "Swadesh List"), and texts. Many of our texts are transcribed oral narratives. Others are translations such as the beginning chapters of the Book of Genesis or the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The first three chapters of Genesis were collected in as many languages as possible, to provide a parallel text for language decipherment in the distant future (much as the original Rosetta Stone artifact did for the decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphs).

The Rosetta Project Digital Language Archive is part of the National Science Digital Library, is backed up by Stanford's long term digital archive, and now has nearly 100,000 pages of documentation on over 2,300 languages.

Two sides of the Micro-etched Disk

The micro-etched Rosetta Disk has two sides, both of which are browsable on this DVD. One side, meant to be a guide to the contents, is etched with a central image of the earth and a message written in eight major world languages: "Languages of the World: This is an archive of over 1,500 human languages assembled in the year 02008 C.E. Magnify 1,000 times to find over 13,000 pages of language documentation." The text begins at eye-readable scale and spirals down to microscopic scale. This tapered ring of languages is intended to maximize the number of people that will be able to read something immediately upon picking up the Disk, as well as implying the directions for using it—'get a magnifier and there is more.'

On the reverse side of the disk from the globe graphic are over 13,000 microetched pages of language documentation. Since each page is a physical rather than digital image, there is no platform or format dependency. Reading the Disk requires only optical magnification. Each page is .019 inches, or half a millimeter, across. This is about equal in width to 5 human hairs, and can be read with a 650X microscope (individual pages are clearly visible with 100X magnification).

The Rosetta Disk

Fifty to ninety percent of the world's languages are predicted to disappear in the next century, many with little or no significant documentation.