The Rosetta Project is named after the famous rosetta stone from antiquity that contained writing in three different ancient forms of the same textual content. This allowed a breakthrough in translating Egyptian hieroglyphs (picture scripts) that were previously undecipherable.
The Rosetta Project – [rosettaproject.org]
The Rosetta Project is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to build a publicly accessible digital library of human languages.
Fifty to ninety percent of the world’s languages are predicted to disappear in the next century, many with little or no significant documentation.
The Rosetta Project is The Long Now Foundation’s first exploration into very long-term archiving. It serves as a means to focus attention on the problem of digital obsolescence, and ways we might address that problem through creative archival storage methods.
Our first prototype of a very long-term archive is The Rosetta Disk – a three inch diameter nickel disk with nearly 14,000 pages of information microscopically etched onto its surface. Since each page is an image, rather than a digital encoding of 1′s and 0′s, it can be read by the human eye using 500 power optical magnification. The disk rests in a sphere made of stainless steel and glass which allows the disk exposure to the atmosphere, but protects it from casual impact and abrasion. With minimal care, it could easily last and be legible for thousands of years.
What kind of information should go into a very long term archive? One can imagine many possibilities: A collection of the world’s greatest literature, known cures for the diseases that plague humanity, blueprints for recreating major technology… all of these would be appropriate in a collection we might like to leave for future generations to come centuries, even millennia hence.
The Long Now Foundation chose to begin by creating a key, a kind of “decoder ring” for any information we might leave behind in written form – in any language. The Rosetta Disk collection has as its core a set of “parallel” information – the same texts, the same set of vocabulary, the same kinds of description – for over 1,000 human languages.
The idea to collect parallel texts was inspired by the original Rosetta Stone, which had the same basic text (a decree) inscribed in three different scripts. By working back through known languages and scripts, scholars were able to decipher ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, thereby unlocking the encoded history of an ancient civilization.
Since that beginning, The Rosetta Project collection has grown to over 100,000 pages of documents, as well as language recordings, for over 2,500 languages. The collection is now housed as a special collection in the Internet Archive, and we continue to expand the collection through new materials and contributions.
The Rosetta Project–Texts – [archive.org]
The Rosetta Project is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to build a publicly accessible digital library of material on the nearly 7,000 known human languages. The collection currently contains nearly 100,000 pages of material documenting over 2,500 languages, as well as a growing multimedia collection of modern and historical language recordings.
The Rosetta Project is one exploration of The Long Now Foundation’s 10,000 Year Library. The Rosetta Disk, a very long-term backup of the collection, is a hand-sized nickel disk microscopically etched with thousands of pages from the collection and readable with 600 power optical magnification. The writing on the disk can last and be legible for thousands of years.
300 languages project – [rosettaproject.org]
About the 300 Languages Project
The 300 Languages Project is a special effort by The Rosetta Project, part of The Long Now Foundation, to begin the construction of a universal corpus of human language by collecting parallel text and audio in the world’s 300 most widely-spoken languages. The resulting collection will contain thousands of volunteer-contributed public domain text documents and audio recordings which will be made available to researchers and the public alike via The Internet Archive, a free online digital library.