***Writer’s Note: 🙂 I literally was finished with this essay (2500+ words) and decided to delete it. Hopefully this will be a more concise and focused attempt.
For a majority of human history, we relied on oral delivery to bring the events of our past to life. We’d sit around a campfire and listen to stories of our forefathers adventures, unstoppable monsters, and through those stories, we’d understand a little bit more about where we came from and where we were going.
Fast forward to the present. We have so many mediums and the ability to capture history is just a click away. History went from a singular narrative to a multi layered complexity that will require a new set of research skills to truly get the big picture. Imagine your neighborhood historian developing a machine learning algorithm to sort through a bunch of tweets to use as primary documents for an event? How about developing a program that sorts through pictures on Facebook to evaluate sentiment of an event? The future historian aggregates all experiences and perspectives and tries to draw inferences. Some would say very similar to current historians. Yea sure, but the pools of information are digitally structured and maintained. There’s a whole new set of skill required to analyze that amount of information.
For the common historian ( the rest of us), we have to prepare ourselves to understand historical events have multiple narratives and view points. We should look to past events and understand there’s more to the story, they just couldn’t capture it. There’s a little boys perspective on his dad going to die in the 100 years war. There were women who had a lot to say about their husbands and sons being taken on the coast of West Africa. When we digest history, our first question should be, “whose perspective are we missing?” We should understand that history is exactly that… His story.
I hope by having a more integrated and inclusive understanding of what and who history affects, we can make sure as many people’s narratives are captured as possible. Ultimately, we’ll create a better picture of how history affected people involved, and how we can all learn to be better or different in the future.