There is a cliche that many people often share about history, and how it is written by the victors. The conquerors across the world, for the most part, are the ones who transcribed the history for others to read. We have terms like “revisionist history” to account for the fact that we realize the truth may be quite a bit grayer than those historical accounts we read lead us to believe. And it is often the sole dissenting voice that points us toward what the true history may be – some in between version where the good guys are perhaps not quite so good, and the bad guys not so bad.
It is easy to think of these shades of history while traveling in Greece (where I spent the past week), because the evidence of this is all around. From the city of Acropolis high over Athens to the softly smoldering volcanic remains in the caldera of Santorini. What was once religion is now called mythology, a sign perhaps that our religion of today may befall the same fate. Amongst those ruins of temples and palaces, there is the beautifully frustrating knowledge that we will probably never know what these really looked like or how these people truly lived.
The history today will be different. With technology and social media, we have the effortless ability to capture our individual truth and experience in minute detail and save it on shared servers for the world to access hundreds or thousands of years from now. Ironically, this fact may make the study of history that much more complicated, as historians in the future will have many versions of truth to study and contrast. Rather than piecing this history together through buried bone fragments and stones with the rare written account as they have done for many years, they will do it through compiling and sorting data, analyzing imagery and watching video.
Combined with global historical initiatives such as the Internet Archive and Google Earth, the portrait of our world as it stands today will be far more complete and multi-experienced for historians of the future than any other age that has come before. For those of us who write blogs or upload photos, the scope of our actions are easy to forget or minimalize. But we are the new historians of our time and our content will one day be history – and probably for more than just ourselves. It’s a humbling to imagine your own words on this scale … particularly when you think of who could be reading them a long time from now.