Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How will history be documented in the future?

I've been thinking about this for a number of weeks now.

One of my absolute favourite books as a teenage girl was The Diary of Anne Frank, it inspired me to start writing a diary. If you watch almost any historical documentary on SBS or ABC, you'll see references to diary entries and old letters written between people. Last night Dave watched the end of a four part documentary called Warlords about Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin and Hitler and how they changed the course of the world during WW2 with this various negotiations. The most interesting, insightful parts of the documentary were the thoughts from these men recorded in their correspondence with each other and other people.

So, ok, now we have this wonderful information age where almost anything is available at the fingertips of a person with an internet connection and a modicum of reseatch prowess. It's bloody wonderful, I love it! I certainly wouldn't want to go back to the "dark ages" when you had to traipse down to the library to read information that was probably at least a year old, if not much older, and therefore outdated.

However, with the advent of blogging and emailing, are we burying all possibility of future generations to access our thoughts in the decades to come?

I mean, sure, our thoughts are "on the net" readily accessible to everyone if we want them to be, but for how long? What happens to these blogs, and these emails after 10 years? Or 20 years? What about 100 years from now. Will they still be accessible. Will historians in 100 years time be able to track down the intimate thoughts of the worlds movers and shakers at the end of the 20th century, or the beginnning of the 21st?

Are we in the process of starving history by not putting our words and thoughts on paper that might last 1000 yesrs when computer harddrives have rusted and been corrupted?

I don't like to think about this too deeply, because it's actually a bit unnerving, don't you think?


katef said...

You can get your blog printed up and bound into a book! It is not cheap but I really want to find time to go through and edit my old posts and do it.... because I think you are right a lot of these things will be lost because the Internet is so 'impermanent' (is that a word???). At least my great grandkids will be able to find my 'ideas books' full of 'to do lists' and drawings and stuff - I bet they will be thrilled.. NOT!

Amanda O. said...

Some of us are freaks and burn our blogs to disk with the intention of having them printed once there is enough volume as well. I've tried writing diaries by hand or even keeping them on the computer but I never stick with it. The interactive element of the blog is a draw, so I take the trade off of risking it being impermanent.

I think part of what will make up a difference is that because so many people are blogging and there is a knowledge that other people are likely (even desired to) see them will inhibit us from writing our innermost feelings the way we would in a totally private journal or diary so they may be much less interesting to a degree? Since at least for me it's the little intimate details of old diaries that make them so addictive.

Sitting In Silence said...

I agree...it really does make you think about things like this.

I have never heard of getting a blog printed into a book.

What a great idea, must take a look at it, I would love to do that to mine.

Have a great day.

Unknown said...

Hmmm, I don't blog but I write special stuff in a book. A few books. Mostly notebooks which are strewn around the house. Not good.

Averil said...

I have every intention of turning my blog into a book for my family down the track.

I love to sit and fantasize at how my very precious blog book" will look one day!

Good Job!