I’m referring to epigraphic inscriptions. Given the increasing ephemerality of media, it seems astounding to me that these objects, through sheer physical durability, have survived for thousands of years. Not dependent upon compatible operating systems or the vagaries of laminated plastic disks, their data remains fully accessible for interpretation. Hardly a scholar, even I am able to figure out, with the help of a Latin dictionary, the literal content of, say, a Roman tablet from 50 B.C.

And despite their rarified, museological status, much of the content of these ancient texts is not so different from spam: FIGHTS WITH WILD ANIMALS… MARCUS HOT BATHS FOR LONG LIFE AND VIRILITY… Or there is the altar or religious commemorative, in which a Roman citizen would dedicate an inscription to his favorite deity. It occurs to me that these are less like spam and are more akin to the countless homespun web sites devoted to a given individual’s favorite pop icon.

While it is interesting to know that someone named Titus dedicated a small inscribed panel to the goddess Diana because he saw her "in a vision," or that Marcus’s baths offered both fresh and sea water, or that one could watch the gladiatorial fights at Pompeii under "an awning to keep off the sun," it seems incredible that this information has survived, given the acres of content produced in our own time – films, print publications, raw data – that is already or may soon be inaccessible in any form.