NOT SO SECRET HISTORY

Like many people, I’ve been thinking back to the events of September 11, 2001, and I began to wonder how future historians would view it.

That dreadful day was a significant milestone, not just in our lives, but in the history of civilisation. It’s up there with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand as a pivotal moment in history. Could it be that historians a thousand years from now will point to September 11, 2001 and say that was the moment America began to decline? Might they even confuse the date with the start of the GFC? After all, today, historians argue over the details of what happened in say Tudor times – who did what, where and when; and often there is no consensus.

But actually, unless we destroy ourselves (in which case there won’t be any historians, just exoanthopologists from another planet perhaps) future students of our era should have no excuse for getting the slightest thing wrong. The reason is that humans have never before documented their own existence so thoroughly, widely and frequently as they do now.

Now, we are all archivists. You don’t have to be an academic or a writer, a film-maker or a recording artist to leave some sort of mark for the future. Every tweet is stored somewhere, every blog, every Facebook remark or You Tube comment is there in cyberspace. And okay, most of this will one day vanish into the ether, some will survive on the billions of hard drives, USBs and in the files of Internet Providers.

The question is of course: Will anyone in a thousand years time care that nine thousand people a second tweeted the ‘news’ that Beyonce was pregnant?

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