Let’s clear out the dross

I’m probably a bit ghoulish, but I just love it when some really old skeleton is dug up somewhere around the world. I still remember the Viking that was found in Scotland a few years ago. Didn’t you feel a bit sorry for him? How jolly can it be to be jerked out of your eternal rest and displayed to the world in nothing more than your naked bones… if they hadn’t dragged him out, he would probably have turned in his grave.

But at the same time it’s fascinating. Not so much the bones, but the stuff that was accompanying him on his trip to Valhalla. That small pile of rusty iron, vaguely reminiscent of a sword, was presumably top-notch gear during his lifetime, designed according to the latest trends in ironwork and war science. And the wooden boat in which he was buried was probably a top-class racing vessel in his day.

Now, a thousand years later, these must-haves from the Viking age are of course hopelessly outdated. No one in his right state of mind would dare to cross the seas in a wooden bathtub, without an outboard motor. A

nd win a war with an iron sword, seriously?

Sometimes I try to picture what kind of cultural antiquities archeologists will unearth a thousand years from now. And especially, what kind of impression these will give them.

There will be no lack of research material, that’s for sure. They will probably be up to their necks in our garbage. And if that’s not enough, they will be able to rummage through the large amounts of space junk that we have bequeathed them.

They will probably shake their heads and wonder how in the world we managed to survive with primitive tools like popcorn machines, digital zoom cameras, iPads, slow juicers, flat screen HDTVs and robotic lawn mowers. I suspect they will feel particularly sorry for us when they dig up our ‘prehistoric’ vehicles like self-driving cars, aerodynamic planes, Ariane missiles and Voyagers.

So far no problem; that’s just who we are, at the peak of our technological prowess. But what bothers me more is the idea they will get when they start digging around in the other rubbish dump we leave behind – the digital one. All of this junk stacked up around the world is likely to leave a less-than-flattering impression of our current intellectual powers, not least on account of the terabytes of facile daily updates on Facebook, the millions of meaningless clips on YouTube. You don’t want to even consider the possibility of our descendants ten centuries from now unleashing their highly skilled academics on piecing together the social scene around the year 2000 – I feel embarrassed just thinking about it!

Therefore, the time has come to make an exhaustive clean sweep of the Internet. Let’s just throw away all the old junk and from now on be slightly more selective when publishing and saving information on the worldwide web. After all, it’s our future image that is at stake!