Free Knowledge

GMU Vision SeriesMy friend Jenny invited me to attend an event with her at George Mason University called “The Future of History.” It’s part of their Vision Series: Examining Important Issues of Our Day. Dr. Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media gave the 50-minute presentation. It wasn’t exactly what I expected based on the description of the session; however the fact that it was free and that I walked away with bits of new knowledge made it worthwhile.

Three things Dr. Cohen mentioned that stayed with me …

  • We need to come up with a balance where private data can be hidden on the Web, but yet data can also be accessible for public research.
  • Libraries and books have been around for centuries as historical references, but Google and Twitter may not be around 100 years from now due to technology changing so frequently. We have to come up with a way to archive things like Twitter for human record. He used 9/11 as an example of a major event in modern history, the fact that it was the first time texting and communication through the Web were used by so many and the importance of preserving the information/messages people exchanged.
  • A resource called The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) aims to create a large-scale digital public library that will make cultural and scientific records available to all.

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