Yahoo to digitally encapsulate 2006

If there's any intelligent life out there with the right technology, they can expect to receive a laser-guided load of multimedia messages from our little blue-green planet, thanks to Yahoo.

The search company announced today the launch of an Internet time capsule, intended to document life in 2006. People from around the globe are invited to submit digital photos, text, movies, and audio files on topics such as love, sorrow, beauty, the past, and the present.

At the end of the project (about 29 days from now), the time capsule will be saved onto a digital archive and sealed at the Yahoo HQ to be opened in 2020. Another copy will go to the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings archive in Washington D.C.

Finally, in a move that has PR stunt written all over it, Yahoo on Oct. 25 through 27 will project the capsule contents onto one of the world's oldest time capsules, the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Mexico, and beam it into space from the pyramid. This event will be viewable live via Webcast.

"Wherever people use Yahoo -- from Mexico, Germany or China to the U.S. -- we want them to represent their culture and show us what's impor-tant to them by participating in this historic Internet time capsule event," said Jerry Yang, co-founder and "chief Yahoo." "It will be fascinating to see what people submit as their part of this 2006 snapshot, which will be shared with generations to come."

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The time capsule, accessible at timecapsule.yahoo.com, was designed by artist Jonathan Harris, and it shows. Aesthetically speaking, I think Harris has done an impressive job of designing an application that's not only aesthetically pleasing but also intuitive for making contributions and sifting through them.

There is, for example, a neat Facts page, where you can view all sorts of data about what kind of contributions have been made to the capsule.

(I did observe that some contributors didn't quite grasp the proper technique of tagging contributions, though.)

Also nice: Yahoo will be donating $100,000, divided among eight charities. When you add to the time capsule, you may select which charity of the eight you support.

My only hope is that no one contributes a clip from the show "ALF." I think that could serve to antagonize otherwise peaceful aliens out there who don't take kindly to being portrayed so demeaningly.

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