This is something I’ve been considering since reading Andrew Schiestel’s excellent blog post concerning Toronto’s Steam Whistle Brewery and ‘the Power of Now’…
If there are any of you out there who haven’t read Andrew’s Schiestel’s thought-provoking post on the Power Of Now (which started this whole history kick running), check it out here.
What is history? Conventionally, I suppose, it could be defined as the study of the past using interpretations of texts, records, archives etc.
We study history to learn why things happened in the way that they do. And, crucially, to try and avoid making the same mistakes time after time.
But history changes with each new source uncovered. It’s not fixed, immutable. It changes.
Historically (irony duly noted), history could also be argued to be the story told by the winners over and above the losers. The victor in battle gets to tell the story, to take over foreign lands, to teach their interpretation of events.
And if you happen to be a feminist, you may argue to history is HIS STORY, a tale told by the men of the generations, which is why they always put themselves first.
History has always relied on a small number of sources to make its story understood. Only the chosen few could read, write or draw on a burial tomb’s wall.
Only the chosen few could produce something that would last the ravages of time. And only a few could afford to buy such things.
Which brings us to 2010.
Where there’s Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Xing. Bing. Blogs. Comment pages. Email. Books. Magazines. Newspapers.
A million different sources for a billion different people.
Tomorrow’s historians will have far more source material to look at than ever before. They will be spoilt for choice.
Which means two things.
One: They will be even more subjective about what they choose to use as their sources. It’s easy when there is only one copy of the Magna Carta and Doomsday book. Simple when only a couple of different interpretations of a religious text exist.
But infinitely harder when there are millions of Tweets and blog posts per day about the same thing.
So the parameters will have to be clearer. The information more cleverly sorted, sifted, categorised and processed.
The wastage may be higher. Will be higher as billions of snippets and trillions of words get swept aside for the useful few.
And two: History starts now. The story of today is being written in a billion different ways simultaneously. We no longer need to rely on the priests, the educated, the chosen few.
We’re all writing history.
History is now. Scary, isn’t it?
And the outcome of this? The point of what, up to now, must seem a particularly rambling post, even for me?
The point is simple. It’s a question.
If history is now, this moment, the instant a thought is conceived and put ‘out there’, what does your contribution look like? And how will your brand influence the course of events?