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Circuit Breaker

Website closes; creates physical archive designed to last 10,000 years

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Read it (much) later

Long Now Foundation / Spencer Mishlen

Journaling website Hi.co (dedicated to recording "moments big and small") is closing on September 1st, and archiving its users' contributions in a nickel-plate "book" designed to be readable for the next 10,000 years. The site's creator, Craig Mod and Chris Palmieri, decided they wanted to give their project a proper ending, rather than slowly petering out. In a blog post on Medium, Mod describes how the site had felt like a "pact" with readers. "You give us your stories about place, and we’ll give you a place to put your stories," writes Mod. "We do not take this moral duty lightly."

Everything on the site — roughly two million words and 14,000 photos — will be etched in microscopic size onto a series of nickel plates. Everything will be readable with an optical microscope, and the disks have a shelf-life of roughly 10,000 years.

the archives aren't being stored as data, but as microscopic etchings

"They’re fire resistant. They deal well with salt water," writes Mod. "And because they’re printed with our pictures and words  —  assuming contemporary language is decipherable in the future  —  anyone who finds this and has access to fairly elementary technology (an optical microscope) will be able to read our thoughts and experiences as mapped to city and place." The ion-inscription technology is the same used by the time-obsessed Long Now Foundation in the creation of their language-laden Rosetta Disk (top image), and Mod and Palmieri are working with Long Now board member Kevin Kelly to create their archive.

According to a piece on the site's closure in The Atlantic, the nickel plates will be distributed to several major archives around the world, including the Library of Congress. Users will be able to download their own records from the site, and Mod says that anyone who wants to contribute by creating a new account will be free to do so until September 1st. "Paradoxically, there’s never been a more meaningful moment to join [the site]," writes Mod.

He and Palmieri will cover the costs of the nickel plates (roughly $30,000) by selling the Hi.co domain, and the Internet Archive will keep its own copy of the entire site. The new name for the long-lived project will be the Hitotoki Archives; derived from Mod's translation of the Japanese words meaning "one" (hito) and "moment" (toki). The archives will be more than just a single moment, of course, but collection from users all around the world, accessible (potentially) for more than ten millennia. But in the wider scheme of things — the rise and fall of civilizations, the end of species, the heat-death of the Universe — even that's little more than a moment in time.