Saturday, November 22, 2008

Social Media Changing History

I have a presentation I regularly go out and give that is all about bloggers and how they are transforming their own lives, their communities and, in fact, the world, with the simple act of blogging.

I touch on the obvious: political blogging and its impact. But I spend a lot more time illuminating the power that comes from blogging as a personal platform.

One of the things I always talk about is history. Throughout time History with a capital 'H' has focused on war, government and commerce. And until quite recently those three things were male-dominated. Thus History has really been mostly men's history. Yet, we are fascinated by the details of people's lives and culture when we find evidence of it. What is the most compelling part of Ken Burns' Civil War documentary, for example? Is it not the letters? Just regular people sharing intimate thoughts and feelings.

Blogging is changing how our history will be written. We have unprecedented access to what people across all walks of life are doing, individually and as part of societal groups.

Not only is it a gift on a very personal, individual level to hand down our lives to our children and grandchildren (or nieces and nephews, for that matter.) It is a gift to future anthropologists and historians too.

Ben Parr over at Mashable digs into this particular subject in more detail than I can as part of a larger presentation with is post: 5 Ways Social Media Will Change Recorded History. Just about everything he says resonates with me.

How about you?

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Absolutely no doubt that blogging is changing History with a capital H as well as social history. I got the impression from attending the first Blogher meeting (in 2003) that blogging was primarily for personal venting ("getting naked") until I learned that an Iraqi young man was blogging while US tanks rolled down his street in Bagdad. Those blogposts were compiled into a book. His blog crossed over from a personal journal to a primary source for historians, and a way to monetize blogging.

(I also learned from the first Blogher event about corporate blogging as a PR function; as well as many other attributes of blogging.)

Now, I get a much fuller picture of any topic by reading blogs. They don't pretend to comply with journalistic standards of checking facts and having more than 2 comparable sources, but they give information and opinion that journalists, if they're honest, aren't supposed to give.

Hooray for social history, for History with a capital H, and for readers and bloggers worldwide.
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