The Rosetta Disk

The Rosetta Disk is the physical companion of the Rosetta Digital Language Archive, and a prototype of one facet of The Long Now Foundation’s 10,000-Year Library. The Rosetta Disk is intended to be a durable archive of human languages, as well as an aesthetic object that suggests a journey of the imagination across culture and history. The  foundation attempted to create a unique physical artifact which evokes the great diversity of human experience as well as the incredible variety of symbolic systems we have constructed to understand and communicate that experience.

The Rosetta Disk is one small answer to the riddle of longevity. An “iconic object” designed to last about 2,000 years, the disk itself is heavy nickel, 3 inches in diameter, and decorated with the words “Languages of the World” swirling around a core of 30,000 microetched pages. The pages contain a small bit of text — 27 pages from the biblical story of Genesis — and some basic phonetic and grammatical details, printed in at least 1,000 languages, legible only under a 1,000x microscope.

The Disk surface shown here, meant to be a guide to the contents, is etched with a central image of the earth and a message written in eight major world languages: “Languages of the World: This is an archive of over 1,500 human languages assembled in the year 02008 C.E. Magnify 1,000 times to find over 13,000 pages of language documentation.” The text begins at eye-readable scale and spirals down to nano-scale. This tapered ring of languages is intended to maximize the number of people that will be able to read something immediately upon picking up the Disk, as well as implying the directions for using it—‘get a magnifier and there is more.’

On the reverse side of the disk from the globe graphic are over 13,000 microetched pages of language documentation. Since each page is a physical rather than digital image, there is no platform or format dependency. Reading the Disk requires only optical magnification. Each page is .019 inches, or half a millimeter, across. This is about equal in width to 5 human hairs, and can be read with a 650X microscope (individual pages are clearly visible with 100X magnification).

The 13,000 pages in the collection contain documentation on over 1500 languages gathered from archives around the world. For each language there are several categories of data—descriptions of the speech community, maps of their location(s), and information on writing systems and literacy. Grammatical information including descriptions of the sounds of the language, how words and larger linguistic structures like sentences are formed, a basic vocabulary list (known as a “Swadesh List”), and whenever possible, texts are also included. Many of the texts are transcribed oral narratives. Others are translations such as the beginning chapters of the Book of Genesis or the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

The Rosetta Disk is held in a four inch spherical container that both protects the disk as well as provides additional functionality. The container is split into two hemispheres with the three inch Rosetta Disk sitting in an indent on the flat meeting surface of the two hemispheres. The upper hemisphere is made of optical glass and doubles as a 6X viewer, giving visual access deeper into the tapered text rings. The bottom hemisphere is high-grade stainless steel. A hollow cylinder has been machined into the bottom hemisphere that holds a stainless steel ribbon for disk caretakers to etch their names, locations, and dates – hopefully creating a unique pedigree for each Rosetta Disk as it travels through time and human hands. A small stylus tool is included for future caretakers to add additional information.

At the very least, the Rosetta Disk provides an informative overview of human linguistic diversity in the 21st century. However, it may do much more. The translations on the disk, for example, are a close analog to the Rosetta Stone, whose parallel texts (in this case unintentionally) enabled the decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphics. It isn’t a great stretch to imagine that the language information on this disk could provide the key to the (re)discovery of valuable society sustaining knowledge far into the future.

The Rosetta Disk is being designed and developed through the collaboration of artists, designers, linguists and archivists including Kurt Bollacker, Stewart Brand, Paul Donald, Jim Mason, Kevin Kelly, and Alexander Rose and Laura Welcher. Primary funding for the first Rosetta Disk and the project that grew out of it came from the generous support of Charles Butcher and the Lazy Eight Foundation.

“I don’t think it’s an apocalyptic object,” Mason says. The Disk might survive a nuclear winter, but planning for a total collapse of civilization isn’t the point of Long Now. “There’s a variety of purposes for the Disk, from the iconic to the actually functional.”

The Disk is already an icon, in fact, for a more awesome project — a massive effort to collect basic information about every existing language into a single online database, called the All-Language Archive. In some ways the Disk is beside the point: It has led to a practical, down-to-earth venture that may be more important than a bunch of microscopic Genesis translations. What started as a dreamy experiment by a handful of Buckminster Fuller-ish future theorists at a Presidio nonprofit has evolved into a serious effort to preserve the world’s dying tongues, and Mason — to his considerable surprise — finds himself in charge. Maybe that’s why he talks so stiffly sometimes, using a lingo one might call “visionary-bureaucrat.” He’s not an uptight guy, but he moves around the office with a stressed, intense concentration laid over his native bohemian looseness.

“We found ourselves in possession of a tool,” he says, “and a medium” —the Web —”that allowed for a collaborative creation of a very broad reference work, one that we’re now on the verge of recasting as an attempt to finish one of the [critical] data sets of humanity.” (The human genome map would be another major data set.) The goal, he explains, is to create “a record of human languages, tending towards All.”

Time is running short for this kind of work, because linguistic diversity is going the way of species diversity. Hundreds if not thousands of tongues are spoken only by a few isolated and elderly speakers, so linguists need to get to those speakers before they die —and take their rare words with them. The Rosetta Project wants to ease that problem, if it can.

The site lists 1,470 languages so far, out of about 4,000 worldwide that have paper documentation —either published in dusty books or “languishing away,” according to Mason, “in file cabinets and shoe boxes and closets,” where missionaries or far-flung researchers might have left it for posterity. The project’s goal for the next five years is to collect that written information on the rest of the world’s languages and put it online. This first step toward an All-Language Archive seems modest when compared to the company’s reallyambitious second step, though: collecting data on the remaining 2,000 or 3,000 languages that aren’t even documented. Of course, such a huge undertaking might not get funded by the Rosetta Project’s backer, the Lazy Eight Foundation, which supports unorthodox educational and scientific work.

<p><a href=”″>Rosetta</a> from <a href=””>Scott Oller</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Stephen King Novella Finds Haven At Syfy

Via: The FireWire

Syfy will air the first episode of the supernatural drama series Haven on July 9th at 10/9c, based on the novella “The Colorado Kid,” from renowned author Stephen King. “Haven is the quintessential Stephen King town, full of complex, yet identifiable, characters and compelling supernatural situations.

Deep in the heart of Maine, Haven is a town where people with supernatural abilities have migrated for generations because it mutes their powers, allowing them to lead normal lives. At least, until recently. When hot-shot FBI agent Audrey Parker is called to Haven to solve the murder of a local ex-con, she catches the killer but uncovers a much deeper mystery about this town. Each week, as the town- peoples’ dormant powers begin to express themselves, Audrey will try to keep these supernatural forces at bay while unraveling the many mysteries of Haven – including one surrounding her own surprising past in this extraordinary place.

Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series To Be Directed By Ron Howard

Via: The FireWire

Stephen King, Imagine Entertainment and Weed Road are in discussions to create a movie trilogy initially for the big screen and then follow up with a TV series based on King’s “The Dark Tower” series. Universal Pictures is in talks to distribute.

Ron Howard is slated to direct the script written by Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man and The Da Vinci Code). Howard’s Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will produce with Goldsman and King.

At the age of 19, Stephen King wrote an epic that incorporated “The Lord of the Rings.” The “Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone” and a poem written by Robert Browning entitled, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”.

The seven book series was written and published separately over a period of 22 years.

The first book entitled “The Gunslinger,” introduces the heroic character Roland Deschain of Gilead as he pursues the “Man in Black” through the mountains that separate the desert from the Western Sea in an apocalyptic world that is similar to our own world.

The series was once developed by J.J. Abrams and his “LOST” team of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse but they realized they wouldn’t be able to do an adaptation justice, and they gave the rights back to King.

Dark Tower Project Next for LOST Men

Stephen King has always been my favorite author. Mainly because I attribute him to opening my eyes to the world of reading. Reading can be enjoyable, entertaining, educating—ok so you get the point, I’m out of adjectives that start with the letter e anyway. I picked up a copy of the The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger that my mom had laying around the house I was intrigued by the cover artwork.

As I opened the book and read the first line“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” I was immediately hooked and amazed at how fast I blazed through the story. I was finished in two days, a small book mind you, but up to this point I’d only read what was required in high school. But King’s style of writing was something new that I really enjoyed. Next I turned by attention to the Stand and was equally impressed. Thank you Mr. King for helping to open my mind to reading. It’s become a large part of who I am.

Over the years I’ve read King’s whole collection, in addition to many other works by many different authors. I have a collection of first edition Stephen King hardbacks that is only shy four of being complete. But the “The Dark Tower series”, all seven books continues to hold my attention. Several of the early books I’ve read too many times to count. I endured a delay of almost seven years between book three and book four, so I couldn’t be more happy about the possibility of the LOST guys taking on an immense challenge like the Dark Tower. I hope they do Stephen King proud.

J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof Will Work On Dark Tower After LOST Is Over
Via: LarryFire 05/01/09

Just as there are whispers in the jungles of “Lost,” there have likewise been whispers in Hollywood that J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof — two of the masterminds behind the ABC television series — have been working on an adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel series “The Dark Tower.” Now, those whispers are getting louder and clearer.


“Damon Lindelof and I talked to Mr. King,” Abrams told IGN while promoting the upcoming “Star Trek” film. “We got the rights for [‘Dark Tower’] as a film. Damon is obviously still on ‘Lost’ and we’ve been working on ‘Star Trek’ together. As soon as ‘Lost’ is done, hopefully we’ll begin tackling that.”

For his part, Lindelof has also been speaking about the Stephen King adaptation. As “Lost” wraps up its penultimate season and gets ready for the sixth and final year of the show, Lindelof told Lostpedia that his entire creative energy is currently focused solely on the series.

“We’re just so focused on finishing ‘Lost’ that it’s really hard to think about anything else,” he said. “The last thing we want to think about is how to adapt a seven book series of, you know, basically the writer who we admire the most and look up to most and has inspired our work the most, and do anything with that. I think that it’s such a daunting task. We have a pretty daunting task in front of us ourselves [with the end of ‘Lost’].”

Still, it’s not as if the “Lost” showrunner hasn’t spoken about “Dark Tower” in the past. He previously told AMC that he envisions the series on the same scope as Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

“There are always ‘Dark Tower’ conversations, but the figuring out of what this will look like as a movie has not begun,” said Lindelof. “If ‘The Dark Tower’ were in the right hands, I would love to see seven movies executed just right. But you have to get people to see the first one to get them to come and see the second one.”

Bag of Bones

Stephen King’s Bag of Bones To Begin Filming This Summer
Via: Larryfire


The film version of Stephen King’s novel “Bag of Bones” may be shot in the author’s home state of Maine. Director Mick Garris and producer Mark Sennet are planning to meet Tuesday with Gov. John Baldacci and other officials about the possibility of expanding financial incentives available from the state. Maine film industry advocates say “Bag of Bones” will be a $20 million production, and half of the budget would be spent in Maine. Filming could begin as early as this summer. The novel is set in a lakeside summer home in a remote part of Maine where an author suffering from writer’s block dredges up dark secrets following his wife’s death.

Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens who was better known as Mark Twain (1835–1910) was a businessman, speculator, orator, publisher, and author whose work revolutionized American literature and whose jokes are as funny today as they were 150 years ago.

Samuel Clemens grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River. Both Hannibal and the Mighty Mississippi would play a profound role in his writing career. As a young man he worked as a steamboat captain on the river, a job he would recount with awe and love in his greatest nonfiction book, Life on the Mississippi. And Hannibal would serve as the model for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn’s hometown in Twain’s best-remembered novels.

Twain’s writing career began in the wild American West. Having failed as a businessman (for the first of what would be many times), Twain began writing humorous sketches about the American West that captured dialect with his distinctly literal rendering of Americans’ eccentric speechifying. The best of these, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Caleveras County,” made Twain a national celebrity (and, years later, would result in Calaveras High School picking the bullfrog as its mascot). His early career was marked by light and exceedingly funny writings—the Bill Bryson of his day, he got rich off humorous travelogues like Roughing It and The Innocents Abroad. And while these books were ostensibly nonfiction, Twain never had a problem stretching the truth—he once claimed, for instance, that the Egyptians used mummies to power their locomotives. Late in his career, however, Twain’s work (although still funny) became darker and increasingly bitter, vociferously attacking religion and the injustices within American society.

Twain was perched between the light and dark phases of his career when he wrote his best book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Originally published for adolescents, Huck Finn is at once a classic adventure story, a hilarious introduction to the many characters of the river, and a superb attack on the racist and class-dominated social order of the day. The only knock on Twain is that he never wrote another Huck Finn. But to paraphrase Joseph Heller: If Twain never wrote anything like Huck Finn ever again, well–neither did anyone else.

Bad Books
Twain was perhaps more inconsistent than any other major American author. Even his masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is often criticized for its last third, when the book veers from its compelling themes of conscience, racism, and nationalism, and becomes mere shenanigans. Some of his books were consistent—consistently awful. Among the ones you don’t see in book stores much anymore: • Two sequels to Tom Sawyer: Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective. • Christian Science, a relentless, hilarious, and somewhat misogynistic attack on the religion and its founder, Mary Baker Eddy. • 1601, a sort of pauper’s The Prince and the Pauper, without the good plot. • And, of course, A Dog’s Tale, in which Twain fell into the all-too-common trap of telling a story from a dog’s perspective.

Quotable Twain
Presaging contemporary American opinions of France: “France had neither winter nor summer nor morals–apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.” Presaging the banning of: “First God created idiots. That was just for practice. Then he created school boards.” Or “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

On weather: “Climate is what we expect; weather is what we get..” On Congress: “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except congress.”

Among Twain’s biggest fans are many of the American authors who came after him. Faulkner called him “the first truly American writer.” And Ernest Hemingway, in particular, admired Twain. He once said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn…There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” That last sentence means a lot coming from Hemingway, because he fancied himself awfully, awfully good. Conversation Starters

◆ Most of us know that Samuel Clemens is generally believed to have picked the pen name Mark Twain, which he first used when he was 27, as a reference to Mississippi riverboat captain slang for “two fathoms deep” (thus, just barely navigable). But some students of Twain argue for an alternate theory: When he first used the name in his wild days in the West, they argue, he would stop in at a saloon, buy two drinks, and tell the bartender to “mark twain” on his tab.

◆ Twain was born in 1835, a year when Halley’s comet was visible from Earth. In 1909, he wrote, “I came in with Halley’s Comet . . . and I expect to go out with it.” Indeed, he did. When he died on April 21, 1910, the comet was still visible in the night sky.

◆ Although Twain professed to hate captains of industry, it was an executive from Standard Oil, Henry H. Rogers, who helped Twain organize his finances toward the end of Twain’s life. The two became great friends, and one might accuse Twain of hypocrisy, except Rogers was no ordinary industrialist: Although he was nicknamed “Hellhound Rogers” for his hardnosed business deals, he was a secret softy. Rogers helped pay for the schooling of Helen Keller, quietly helped build elementary schools for African Americans in the South, and helped fund Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute.
“It liberates the vandal to travel–you never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place since he was born.” –MARK TWAIN, 1868

Mark Twain at a pool table
Mark Twain loved to laugh and to make people laughCREDIT: “Mark Twain, Half-Length Portrait, Standing, Facing Front, Holding Cue Stick at Pool Table.” Between 1870 and 1910. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

November 30 is the anniversary of the birth of Mark Twain, born 1835 (a year of an appearance of Halley’s Comet). The photo was taken in the spring of 1894 in the laboratory of inventor Nikola Tesla, and originally published to illustrate an article in the legendary Century Magazine, by T.C. Martin called “Tesla’s Oscillator and Other Inventions,” in the April 1895 issue.

Information Via: Mental Floss & Wikipedia

Stephen King goodness


“The Cannibals” or “Under the Dome”
In 1983, Stephen King began a book first titled “The Cannibals” which was also known as “Under the Dome”. This book remained unpublished and unfinished. According to King, the book has come back to life. He read an excerpt from what promises to be a very long novel entitled “Under the Dome”. No publishing date was discussed. It looks like Stephen King is digging into his trunk of long abandoned novels and updating them like he did with Blaze. The short passage that King read dealt with the unexpected death of a small plane pilot and student.
Via: The Fire Wire

The Office at will be a revolutionary interactive virtual world based on the office of Stephen King. This bold new experience will offer users a chance to step inside the very eclectic space of Mr. King and explore the many artifacts, memorabilia, and items housed within his office. Look for The Office to open its doors on Thanksgiving morning (11-27-08). by way of The Fire Wire

N is here. The Stephen King web mini-series


A episodic graphic adaptation of the previously unpublished Stephen King short story “N.” specifically developed to be delivered weekdays in 25 video installments to online and mobile phone users. The first episode will be available Monday, July 28th but viewers can go here today to watch the first episode, which will also be unveiled at Comic-Con International in San Diego today (Friday) at a panel event featuring the creators of this pioneering venture.

The original series tells the story of a psychiatrist who falls victim to the same deadly obsession as his patient—an obsession that just might save the world! There are 25 episodes in total, with each episode running around 2 minutes.  The first episode will be available Monday, July 28th, 2008 with a new one released each weekday until August 29th.  You can watch “N.” online, on your mobile phone or download it at iTunes.

“N.” is one of the stories included in “Just After Sunset“, a short story collection which goes on sale 11/11/08. Stephen King and Marvel will also be releasing a comic book miniseries based on “N.” in early 2009.

Link Dump: 072508

One thing you’ll always find here @ circa71 is monkeys. They amuse me and this little sucker is no exception.


Stephen King

Lost / Darma Initiative