Over at 3quarksdaily, Sam Kean uses the question Will the Manhattan Project Always Exist? as the jumping off point for an interesting thought experiment. Along the way he tackles the innate fragility of all of our documents (digital or otherwise) and our tendency to dismiss the innovations and technological achievements of the past.
Paradoxically, our abundance of documents means we set little store on preserving any one item. And regardless, our long-term track record for preservation is laughable. Few works were better known in ancient times than the plays of Sophocles and Aeschylus, yet barely any exist now. Even Plato barely survived history’s guillotine—throughout medieval times, Plato was unknown in the West, living on only in Muslim countries and in footnotes to other Greek authors. Had the Muslims been worse stewards, or been conquered by marauding Christians who needed kindling or toilet paper, Socrates would have died in vain.
I recommend you go read the rest of the article now.