Alexandria, a new blockchain-based startup, is building a decentralized—and, its founders hope, uncensorable—storehouse of knowledge. The goal? To prevent a Library of Alexandria event, in which a critical mass of human knowledge is destroyed in one fell swoop.
“We chose the name…as an homage to the ancient library of Alexandria, because it is known to most people for two reasons,” Alexandria founder Devon Read explained. “First, it was a great historical example of a monumental effort to collect as much recorded knowledge and history as possible for the benefit of its people and future generations, and second most of its contents were unfortunately destroyed, a failure made possible by the fact that it was centralized.”
But is this really a concern? We don’t store information on papyrus scrolls or vellum parchment anymore. Could a Library of Alexandria event happen in our time?
One librarian is worried. Alison Macrina of the Library Freedom Project wrote in an email, “This is ABSOLUTELY a possibility, given how print books are on the decline and ebooks, locked with DRM, have begun to replace them. This presents a whole host of problems: the destruction of digital archiving, as well as censorship, surveillance, and threats to the very existence of libraries.”