Many go missing. Some are prematurely opened. No two are quite identical on the inside. But if there’s one thing common to all time capsules, it’s a longing to communicate with the future.
It’s an existential itch in an age of planned technological obsolescence, link rot, fading dreams of archiving the entire internet, online trolls, disinformation, loose tweets about nuclear war from the president of the United States, and climate change. That’s especially true for younger generations faced with inheriting such uncertainty but who are nonetheless working toward a better future, from marginalized communities building their own internet, to using Big Data to protect the oceans, to developing an app to help Black organizers bail people out of jail.
To understand who we are and where we’re going, it’s time we talk about time capsules. I’d argue it’s time to consider building your own too, be it as a way of signaling an optimistic vision, or apologizing on behalf of today’s society for destroying the planet and ourselves. Building a DIY time capsule doesn’t mean making another Voyager Golden Record, or going broke necessarily. But a worthy capsule will require shrewd future proofing. With a little data-driven forethought—potentially also some light biohacking—your ark might just transcend time.
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