Wikipedia:There is a deadline
This page in a nutshell: The preservation or survivability of the world's knowledge is at stake. Contribute it to Wikipedia before it's too late.
Practically every day, distinct forms of knowledge
are lost forever and no copies are available. When a natural disaster
hits a region or a war breaks out
and other artifacts of heritage, valuable buildings, incunabula
and unique objects are destroyed or face the threat of destruction. These events usually remove pieces of human knowledge and sometimes entire cultures.
There are plenty of examples of permanent loss of knowledge before Wikipedia's existence. The following is a non-exhaustive list.
Before 20th century
- Churches, monasteries, convents and libraries were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.
- Most of the 1890 United States Census materials were destroyed in a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C. in 1921.
- A storage vault fire in 1937 destroyed all the original negatives of Fox Film Corporation's pre-1935 movies. Furthermore, the vast majority of the silent films produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are considered lost. According to a September 2013 report published by the United States Library of Congress, some 70 per cent of American silent feature films fall into this category.
- Hundreds of libraries and archives were destroyed and their contents lost during World War II.
- A fire in the National Library of Peru destroyed highly valued historical works in 1943.
- More than 6,000 Tibetan monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, along with unique statues, tapestries and manuscripts.
- The National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina was shelled and burnt to the ground, along with thousands of irreplaceable texts, in the Siege of Sarajevo in 1992 during the Bosnian War.
- Some of the original Apollo 11 moon landing tapes in high quality have been recorded over and lost. But all the data was copied as archived in several locations at the time.
- In June 1981, during the Sri Lankan Civil War, the Jaffna Public Library was burnt by Sinhalese Buddhist mobs, destroying over 97,000 rare books and manuscripts in the process.
- During the Romanian Revolution of 1989, a fire was started in the Central University Library of Bucharest and over 500,000 books, along with 3,700 manuscripts, were burnt.
- In 1991 various statues of great historic value, especially those of women like Nurkhon, were removed across Uzbekistan.
Unfortunately, the destruction of knowledge has not ceased with Wikipedia's inception in 2001. Here are a few examples.
- In 2010, much of Haiti's heritage was damaged or destroyed in an earthquake. Little over a month later, Chile's heritage suffered similar destruction in its own earthquake.
- The Egyptian Museum was looted during the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
- In December 2011, a fire destroyed all but 30,000 of the 200,000 books in the historic Egyptian Scientific Institute.
- In May 2012, shrines forming part of the Timbuktu World Heritage Site were destroyed by the Islamist group Ansar Dine.
- Some buildings and churches were damaged in the 2012 Northern Italy earthquakes.
- In June 2012, many documents were burned during a fire at the secretarial building of Mumbai.
- Syrian heritage has been damaged, destroyed and looted during the Syrian Civil War.
- On October 15, 2013, the Bohol earthquake destroyed and damaged several iconic sites.
- On December 25, 2013, the Santuario da Virxe da Barca was destroyed by a fire resulting from lightning.
- The Al Sa’eh Library in Tripoli, Lebanon, with 80,000 books and manuscripts, was burnt down in January 2014.
- Euromaidan protestors damaged or destroyed dozens of Vladimir Lenin statues across Ukraine.
- Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) damaged Mosul Museum artifacts, Mosul Public Library books and other cultural heritage sites like the ancient temples of Baalshamin and Bel.
- The April 25, 2015, Nepal earthquake damaged and destroyed centuries-old buildings in the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley, including some at Kathmandu Durbar Square.
- On April 30, 2015, all the content of Google Ejabat, Google Answers' edition for the Arab world, was erased.
- On April 26, 2016, National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi and its entire collection were destroyed by fire.
- A museum dedicated to Nicola Filotesio stood in the town of his birth until it was destroyed in the August 2016 Central Italy earthquake.
- A fire burned down the National Museum of Brazil on September 2, 2018, destroying more than 90 percent of its collection of more than 20 million objects. Many holdings, such as records of extinct languages, were one-of-a-kind and irreplaceably lost.
- In March 2019, Myspace announced that it had lost all music uploaded between 2003 and 2015.
- In January 2020, a fire damaged or destroyed much of the collection of New York City's Museum of Chinese in America. Around 35,000 of the 85,000 items had been digitized and backed up before the fire.
- In February 2020, the fountain of Saint-Brieuc (Link to French Wikipedia: Fontaine de Saint-Brieuc) in the town of Cruguel, France, a historical monument, was destroyed by a car. 
- In April 2021, the Cape Town Library of Library of African Antiquities was damaged by a wildfire.
Today, many of the world's languages
or nearly extinct
In some cases where parents have stopped teaching an endangered language to their children, the language is understood by only a few elderly speakers
. 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.
Furthermore, hundreds of websites are closed every day on the Internet
; the average life of a web page is only 77 days.
Those websites work in many cases as references
. Projects like the Internet Archive
and volunteer groups like Archive Team
save copies of some of them, but many others are lost forever
. This issue may affect Wikimedia projects too, and mirrors
are needed to assure long-term preservation of the data.
Wikipedia and its sister projects can—and must—save all these forms of knowledge, through creating articles, uploading images and recordings to Wikimedia Commons
, preserving languages in Wiktionary
and transcribing books into Wikisource
. Events like Wiki Loves Monuments
may help to immortalize monuments around the world before they are damaged or destroyed.
There is a deadline. This is a battle against time.
...and in 2017.
- Biblioteca en guerra (2009, Blanca Calvo & Ramón Salaberria)
- Cicatrices de Sarajevo (2012, Miguel Ángel Viñas)
- Digital Amnesia (2014, Bregtje van der Haak)
- Digital dark age: help, we're disappearing! (2004, Jörg Daniel Hissen & Peter Moers)
- Internet Archive (2012, Jonathan Minard)
- Las cajas españolas (2004, Alberto Porlan)
- Lost Forever (2011, Paul Mariano & Kurt Norton)
- Metrópolis refundada (2010, Evangelina Loguercio)
- Rescatando sombras. Cine, muerte y memoria (2012, Franco Lorenzana)
- The Destruction of Memory (2016, Tim Slade)
- The End of Memory? (2015, Vincent Amouroux)
- The House of History (1996, Quadir Taheri)
- ^ a b Lost Memory — Libraries and Archives Destroyed in the Twentieth Century (Archived August 12, 2012, at WebCite)
- ^ Grima, Noel (23 May 2015). "Notarial Archives discovery: Documents from Gozo dating to 1431 saved from the bin". The Malta Independent. Archived from the original on 11 August 2015.
- ^ Notes on the history of Birmingham Public Libraries (1861-1961), Birmingham, 1962
- ^ (in Spanish) El martirio de los libros: una aproximación a la destrucción bibliográfica durante la Guerra Civil (Archived September 27, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ US Census Bureau, Census History Staff. "Availability of 1890 Census - History - U.S. Census Bureau". Census.gov. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
- ^ "$45,000 Fire Drives Families From Homes in Little Ferry", Bergen Evening Record, July 9, 1937, p. 1. Quoted by Richard Koszarski in Fort Lee: The Film Town, Indiana University Press, 2005, pp. 339–341. ISBN 978-0-86196-652-3.
- ^ "Library Reports on America's Endangered Silent-Film Heritage". News from the Library of Congress (Press release). Library of Congress. December 4, 2013. ISSN 0731-3527. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
- ^ It Has Been Done Before! Reconstituting War-Ravaged Libraries (Archived September 27, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Aftermath of the Warsaw Uprising, Planned destruction of Warsaw and Polish culture during World War II
- ^ Carlos Aguirre: El incendio de la Biblioteca Nacional del Perú de 1943 on YouTube
- ^ Tibetan monks: A controlled life (Archived September 22, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Erasing the Past: The Destruction of Libraries and Archives in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Archived August 30, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Original moon walk footage erased
- ^ Not-Unsolved Mysteries: The “Lost” Apollo 11 Tapes
- ^ "Remembering The Jaffna Public Library Destroyed By Sinhalese Extremists". Swarajya. June 1, 2016.
- ^ The Central University Library of Bucharest, official site: "the History".
- ^ "Photos of the Iraq National Library 2003–08". Archived from the original on 2010-04-27. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
- ^ (in German) Hilfe für Anna Amalia (Archived September 22, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Archive Collapse Disaster for Historians - Spiegel Online International (Archived September 22, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Shechmeister, Matthew (2009-11-03). "Ghost Pages: A Wired.com Farewell to GeoCities". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
- ^ Haiti Cultural Recovery Project (Archive index at the Wayback Machine)
- ^ Breaking: Images of Egyptian Museum Damage -UPDATE 34- King Tut Objects Damaged? (Archived September 22, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Amid army crackdown, Egypt’s richest library set on fire (Archived December 17, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Un incendio durante los disturbios de El Cairo destruye el original de la 'Descripción de Egipto' encargada por Napoleón (Archived December 19, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Timbuktu's Sidi Yahia mosque 'attacked by Mali militants' (Archived July 6, 2012, at WebCite)
- ^ Islamists vow to smash every mausoleum in Timbuktu (Archived July 6, 2012, at WebCite)
- ^ Towering inferno engulfs Mumbai’s seat of power (Archived July 6, 2012, at WebCite)
- ^ Mumbai government building engulfed in fire (Archived July 6, 2012, at WebCite)
- ^ Damage to the soul: Syria's cultural heritage in conflict (Archived August 12, 2012, at WebCite)
- ^ Pia Ranada (October 15, 2013). "Heartbreaking: 10 iconic churches in Bohol, Cebu damaged". Rappler. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
- ^ "Un rayo destruye un emblemático santuario en Muxía". El Mundo. 2013-12-25. Archived from the original on 2013-12-25. Retrieved 2013-12-25.
- ^ "Lebanon Loses 78000 Books To Terrorism: Tripoli's "Al Sa'eh" Library Burned". Archived from the original on 2014-01-05.
- ^ Ленінопад: від комуністичного вождя звільнено вже 90 міст України, Expres, 2014-02-24, retrieved 2015-04-21
- ^ "ISIS thugs take a hammer to civilisation: Priceless 3,000-year-old artworks smashed to pieces in minutes as militants destroy Mosul museum". Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
- ^ "Nepal landmarks flattened by the quake". Retrieved April 25, 2015.
- ^ Vidhi Doshi (2016-04-26). "Fire guts Delhi's natural history museum". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
- ^ La Repubblica, Terremoto nel centro Italia, i danni al patrimonio artistico
- ^ "Brazil's 200-year-old national museum hit by huge fire". 2018-09-03. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
- ^ "Los meteoritos sobreviven al incendio que ha devastado siglos de historia en Río de Janeiro".
- ^ McCulloch, Gretchen. "Linguistics Division". All Things Linguistic. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
- ^ Tiffany, Kaitlyn (March 18, 2019). "Myspace, which still exists, accidentally deleted 12 years' worth of music". Vox. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
- ^ Katz, Brigit. "Fire at Museum of Chinese in America Caused Less Damage Than Initially Feared". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
- ^ "Morbihan. Ivre, le jeune conducteur détruit la fontaine du XVIIe siècle à Cruguel" [Morbihan. Drunk, the young driver destroyed the 17th century fountain in Cruguel]. ouest-france.fr (in French). Ouest France. 2020-02-23. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
- ^ Wroughton, Lesley. "South Africa wildfire that burned University of Cape Town, library of African antiquities is under control". Washington Post. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
- ^ The Geograph Britain and Ireland project (Archived July 6, 2012, at WebCite)
- ^ "The Endangered Languages Project". EndangeredLanguages.com. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- ^ "Endangered Languages - Ethnologue". Ethnologue.com. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
- ^ The Rosetta Project items from The Long Now Foundation
- ^ Internet Archive Frequently Asked Questions (Archived October 3, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Archive Team website (Archived October 3, 2011, at WebCite)
- ^ Wiki Loves Monuments 2011 - European website (Archived October 2, 2011, at WebCite)
- Translations for this essay (permalink to original version) are more than welcome: German (webcite), French (webcite), Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian, Nederlands, Romanian, Swedish,
- Things get lost. Capture them (Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 blog post by Elke)
- Photos of destroyed heritage (Wiki Loves Monuments 2013 blog post) (Ukrainian version)
- Joel Aldor wants to preserve historic Filipino architecture one photo at a time (Wikimedia Blog, 2014)
- 2015 Earthquake in Nepal: A Wake-up Call for Monument Documentation (Wiki Loves Monuments blog post, 2018)
- Archive Corps, A Volunteer Collective To Help Quickly Save Physical Archives Before They Are Lost (see also Archive Team)
- WikiTeam – Volunteers group to preserve wikis
- Wikimedia projects edits counter – Total edits in Wikimedia projects (near real time)
Last edited on 20 May 2021, at 21:35
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