Brazil’s museum fire proves cultural memory needs a digital backup

wired

FIRE DOESN’T HEED history. It doesn’t care about posterity or culture or memory. Fire consumes everything and anything, even if that thing is the last of its kind. On Sunday night, it came for the National Museum of Brazil, burning for six hours and leaving behind ashes where there had been dinosaur fossils, the oldest human remains ever found in Brazil, and audio recordings and documents of indigenous languages. Many of those languages, already extinct, may now be lost forever.

It’s the kind of loss that’s almost impossible to quantify. For the researchers who worked in the museum, the conflagration sent their life’s work up in smoke.

“It is very difficult to react to reality and try to return to life,” linguist Bruna Franchetta, whose office burned down in the fire, told WIRED in an email. “At the moment we do not know the extent of the destruction of the Documentation Center of Indigenous Languages in the National Museum…

Read more : Wired, 09.07.2018