The new and the different are always the lifeblood of advertising. Agencies would like the end of history in that they seldom advise brands to talk about their history or the past directly.Â It is always safer if it is couched in more softer tones of a brand’s ‘heritage’ or classic with a modern twist.
I’ve had to face up to the fact that I’ve become a product of my time.Â Whenever I start planning a piece of research for a client or an article on invisibleinkdigital, I always start to map out my disparate thoughts on paper. For all my pretensions as a digital planner I find it hard to truly articulate myself directly on a keyboard. A sense of ‘flow’ comes through committing my thoughts to paper, which I’ll then type up.
Clearly it is not just people who feel the hand of history on their shoulders. Detroit City has experienced a population drop of 25% from 2000-2010. Detroit is a city whose fortunes and losses have been acutely defined by modern history. Once the car manufacturing capital of the US, if not the world, it has fallen on hard times. The history of its rise and fall is in the process of being captured by Detropia. A documentary film currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
Whether it is crowd sourcing the funding for a historical documentary, what’s become clear is that capturing the past has become a more interactive and inclusive activity. The scale with which it is possible to digitise history through film, sound and the written word is truly amazing. Books that have never been scanned because they are optically difficult for computers to read and understandÂ are being validated by people entering the words via CAPTCHA formsÂ (link to TEDtalk).
Just as archeologists have to dig through layers of history, we are now accumulating layers of ‘digital history’. This history can take the form of the personal; Facebook Timeline, the private; should Google ever wish to publish a person’s web data; or the collective such as HistoryPin.
Just as the web helps to facilitate the gathering of history, the history of the web is also being captured. The waybackmachine site has collected over 150 billion web pages, stretching back to 1996.
I wonder if we will reach a point where web pages become collectable in themselves? Could you have vintage websites that are an expression of their time and place? Could internet memes escape their narrow confines to become cultural artefacts? This raises a new way of looking at the web as having a cultural history of its own making.
One of Â the most controversial academic publications to have appeared in the last 25 years was Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History. I was always struck by how great a title that was in terms of catching people’s attention. What Fukuyama meant was history as defined by two opposing ideologies Communism and Capitalism, was effectively over with the fall of the Eastern Bloc. Liberal Capitalism had won and therefore the progress of history was to take on a new direction.
But what if this “end of history” actually referred to how we participate in capturing and documenting it? Whereas before it was the few who could talk with knowledge of ‘history’ now anybody can participate. History comes alive and reaches a vast audience as a result of the web.
Take for instance the images of Pripyat, a city abandoned in 1986 as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Time has stood still yet with the publication of the images online meant it was given a new voice and continues to do so.
The expression that history is always written by the victors, now looks to be consigned to the history books. We are now all participants in the end of history.
Once there were parking lots
Now it’s a peaceful oasis
you got it, you got it
This was a Pizza Hut
Now it’s all covered with daisies
you got it, you got it
- (Nothing But) Flowers, Talking Heads, Â http://spoti.fi/LeLj2m