Historiography is the study of History. It was one of my favorite mandatory seminars as a grad student at the University of Akron.
One of my friends and cohorts here in Blog Land, raised a very interesting point in a comment on how the Historians of 100 years from now would treat the scenario in rage now of the Great Republican Plan to Obliterate the Obama Presidency. Obviously all of us reading this will have no interaction whatsoever in the future century. Who knows how the History of our age will be preserved, or how it will be reported to future generations. The History of the Present hasn’t happened yet.
The Trump-Obama factionalism is too multi-faceted to tackle here. However, the question is a good one, and leads me to ponder the basic differences between Now and Then…meaning past and future coverage of historical events. There can be two designations here: Paper and Digital.
The most glaring difference is that what was written, published, in real books is that they were permanent. Not necessarily the absolute authoritative sources on a given subject, but through a sort of consensus of opinions and research, and yes credentials. In order to reach a thesis statement for a given publication, the writer presented his or her own ideas….something new, an alternate position. There are always at least two sides to any proposition.
Here is a proposal that when it comes to Digital History, that which is presented over the internet by countless diverse sources, the information comes across only as permanent as the print-out a student or proponent, or indeed, opposition commentator, understands—or prefers to present as Truth or Falsehood—to their respective readership at any given time.
Digital History is much easier to alter, re-write, or inadvertently distort because of its fluidity…never permanent, always subject to a myriad of changes. We see reports on the internet news channels… a statement made by an anchor person on CNN or Fox, MSNBC, BBC…at a given hour—that never airs again.
No one in their right mind for long will be able to watch Cable News constantly to keep up absolutely on the stream of information. Remember when the internet was actually referred to as the Information Highway? That was back in the 1980s, when major newspapers made the change from individual typewriters to the chaotic stream of News-all-the-Time. Up-to-date means “constantly changing,” which isn’t necessarily a good thing.