These days we live in an era of a historian’s wet dream. We are consistently recording history through all our social tools.
Our actions, feelings, thoughts, our everything, constantly being recorded. From where we are eating, to what we are annoyed about, to what it is that makes us tick. Not only are we recording the “big” things but we are recording EVERYTHING. It’s history without hiccups.
Ben Parr wrote an excellent post on Mashable on the topic. “For the first time in human history, the day-to-day interactions between people are being permanently recorded and formatted in easily organizable segments of information.”
Millions of us are publicly recording our daily activities on our twitter feeds for the world to know for the rest of time. All details are recorded from who we were with and what we were doing to when and where. Historians in the future will not need to guess any details. They’ll have all the information right in front of them.They’ll actually probably know more than they care to know. With pictures on Flickr and videos on YouTube and texts on twitter and links on Facebook and top it all of, personal blogs, historians will have all the info they need and more about each and every one of us and our interactions with one another.
I can already see future museums displaying this era as an era of communications galore when everyone (well, almost everyone) was about transparency and openness – kind of like the 60’s but digital – free social love for all. We cannot share enough of our daily doings with one another and we cannot hear enough. We long for the feedback from our surroundings and the immortality of our souls by recording everything we do. We feed on the interactions surrounding us.
It is not a coincidence that today Reality TV is one of the most (if not THE most) popular TV genres. People like to watch other people’s lives. For this same reason social tools are also so popular – people like to see what others are doing and interact with them while they’re doing it. People are looking for ways to connect more with one another no matter what geographical location they’re at. In what other age was it so easy to interact with someone two continents away from you?
We are learning more about each other’s cultures, actions, relating more to one another. Perhaps world peace will be achievable? Perhaps we’ll learn to get along? Social media tools are definitely changing the face of history.
I cannot write such a post of course without mentioning the story of how the U.S. State Department reached out to Twitter and asked them to delay a network upgrade that was scheduled in June 2009 in order to allow Iranians using the service to protest the presidential election that took place on June 12. Twitter moved the upgrade to a later time. Lev Grossman from Time.com writes: “Twitter didn’t start the protests in Iran, nor did it make them possible. But there’s no question that it has emboldened the protesters, reinforced their conviction that they are not alone and engaged populations outside Iran in an emotional, immediate way that was never possible before.”
There is no question that social tools are changing the face of history. The real question is: Are we fully ready for the change and its future consequences? Are we all ready for an era of total transparency?
Picture credit: Andrew Long