Presentation #222.03 in the session “HAD III: Voyager Probe’s “Golden Record””.
Expressing the essence of contemporary humanity to an unknown audience sounds like an extraordinary, unprecedented undertaking. Indeed, the ‘golden record’ like the space programme it formed part of, was remarkably ambitious. But it also formed part of a long tradition of ‘intentional heritage’ in which societies select elements, images and stories to represent themselves to the future. Statues and monuments may be considered part of this tradition which flourished in the 20th century with the development of time capsules. The golden record represented a leap, both in imagined audience and in methods of communication. The tradition has continued and communication with unknown audiences has diversified and become individualised, even commonplace. All of these undertakings do more than communicate with future audiences, they tell us about ourselves. The arrangements, decisions and choices reveal the workings of our communities in the present day. This paper will explore the place of the golden record in this tradition of intentional heritage and consider its legacy in the present day.