Messing with history

5th Feb 2014

Stumbled on this via Twitter (note to self-record whom). It is a post on Wired by Paul Ford. He maps, briefly the digitisation of a lot of stuff from the past. There is, of course, a great deal of stuff that was never recorded or is unlikely to be digitised. His punch line:

All of the data we’re collecting, all of the data points and metadata, is history itself. Much as we marvel at Babylonian clay tablets listing measures of grain, future generations will find just as much meaning in our log files as they will in the media we consume. Sure, Frank Sinatra sang a bunch of songs; sure, Jennifer Lawrence was a big star in 2014. But the log files tell you who listened, and when, and where they were on the planet. It’s these massive digital archives—and the records that show how we used them—that will be the defining historical objects of our era.

History, at least in this argument, sits on big servers owned by Giga-rich companies (GRCs). Oddly it will allow both the broad brush stuff, i.e. x% of people under the age of y played a Frank Sinatra song in 20xx. It will also allow drilling and linking which serves the interests of the GRCs.

But there is something else here.

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