Last year, last fall, a time capsule was found in Boston. It had been laid by Paul Revere and one of the Adams Family. I was SO excited to find out what was in it. I mean I live on not completely another planet, but I do live in the future and we say, now, “The past is another planet” so would not the future ALSO be another planet? What was in it? MONEY. Did Revere and the Adams Family think we’d need a loan? Were they showing us what their currency looks like? (Boring) there was a silver platter made by Paul Revere — very cool — but with a rather lame and pretentious engraving on it. There were newspaper clippings.
This said more to me about how they imagined US (still using money, self-absorbed and literate) than it told me about them.
Our own Voyager with its “Golden Record” is interesting to ponder from an anthropological perspective. More than anything it reflects not the values of our world but the values of the people who put it together. Carl Sagan, said of Voyager and the record, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” Voyager (Vyger as I like to call it, live long and prosper) will arrive at its destination in roughly 40,000 years. Here you can experience the record.
Personally, I love the rather romantic idea of this “letter in a bottle” and Carl Sagan and others involved worked hard to make it representative of our world AT THAT MOMENT but that was the 70s and I KNOW we don’t live there any more, even though we’re staying alive. 😉 And, naturally, it reflects mostly what they regard as important. Sweet as it is, it’s also, in my mind, hubristic and obtuse. Vyger will, itself, give the Extraterrestrials a lot of information about us, universal (ha ha) information — we are living beings, we a curious, we have a certain level of technological advancement, we have these materials on our planet. That’s a lot.
It’s impossible to make general statements about human culture. It’s varied and in flux. Well, maybe we can make THAT general statement.