How Social Media is rewriting the history books

rewrite history

News of Whitney Houston’s death rocked the World, but it wasn’t written by an Associated Press journalist. The assassination of Osama Bin Laden hit the headlines, but it didn’t break through Reuters. The Boston Marathon bombing unfolded in real-time without the clunky intervention of CNN. Just a couple of high profile examples of how news has broken on Twitter before the mainstream managed to get hold of it and confirm them.

But this raises a more interesting dilemma.

As tweets become a user commodity and ownership a legal issue just who is responsible for curating history as it happens ? Before we relied on so-called experts and historians to document events after the fact (more often than not with their own personal and political spin on the subject) and pass this knowledge down to adult and children through text and history lessons.

But now ? Events unfold in real-time, people offer opinion as it happens via Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook and a number of other online media but is anyone actually recording, curating, collating and processing these as fact for future generations to make sense of ?

Is a Trending Topic on Twitter and LinkedIn worthy of mention in the history books or are they just digital blips to be ignored ?

Imagine becoming the World’s first Social Historian. Just where would you start ? Does the Internet of Things remove the need for static historical media because it’s being written as it happens and is accessible by all to consume ? What if the point at which an event makes history is actually recorded wrongly because the sheer weight of public noise via social media alters the facts behind it ?

We are living in an age where data is consumed and discarded in real-time, where opinion can be incited with the simplest of online gestures and where history is in danger of being ignored or altered at the speed of a Tweet.

History may never repeat itself again because of social media.

In fact, traditional history as we know it may be consigned to the history books itself.

(and yes, the word is spelt wrong in the picture lol)

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One response to “How Social Media is rewriting the history books

  1. Theo, I’ve been thinking on this same topic, as well, and I think our interconnectedness oddly takes us back to where we were hundreds of years ago.

    I watched all those examples you gave play out over social media and it basically creates a more democratic way of consuming, sharing, and recording information and events. Will a lot of people get it wrong? Yes. But, who is to say eons ago when a caveman told the story of where the great fields of buffalo roamed so the kids of his clan could find them, he didn’t mess that up and the kids had to find their way? Same thing. I’m sure some father is telling their kids horrible things about Whitney Houston, while others are telling their kids she was amazing.

    The curation will come based on need or desire, I think. There will be societal needs that will require “official” sources to document and curate information into the official story, like prosecuting the Boston Marathon Bombing. But, that won’t be “right” version of events for everyone, either. There will also be a desire by some to curate an official version of events, much like “The Church” taking it upon themselves generations ago to document history. But, that will be biased depending on your view, too.

    So, I don’t think our path forward will be that much different than the past. We are in the same types of fire-side chats our ancestors were in generations ago. Our fire is just way bigger with a lot more people involved. Some altruistic, some crazy, some malicious, some that just want to watch.

    It’s exciting to get the information real-time, curate it (if you choose to), discuss it, form your own opinion, and debate/discuss with others. At the end of the day, I personally err on the side of giving the information openly.

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