Imagine the future historians

Looking back at us.

People worry that our time in history will be a blank.  That our electronic life will degrade and be erased.  So there are active efforts to create archives.  To curate a picture of our existence.

Imagine how much there is.  If you have kids, you’ve probably already taken 2000 pictures of them so far this year.  Maybe more.

Heck, maybe it’s 18000 pictures.  For many of us taking pictures of our daily lives is just part of how we live our lives.  So 18000 pics a year is probably not unreasonable.

But the archivists, they are just trying to curate a historical record.  They don’t want 18000 instagram photos.  They want a few representative ones.  And I think that’s a mistake.

I think there is a deeper value to our 18000 pictures per year.  That maybe curating is NOT a good thing.

We have posed pictures and artwork from MOST of history.  We have mostly curated historical records because the vast majority of humans did not have the knowledge or the means to write their own records and thoughts.

But now.  We document so much individually. It’s not a complete picture, obviously.  But it’s a much more REAL picture of human life than has ever previously been recorded.  It’s pictures of us being us in real time.

Imagine how absolutely fascinating it would be to see CCTV footage of a busy street corner in London or Beijing from 1000 years ago!   Imagine being able to pull up an ancestors instagram and see their garden and their baby and their dinner!    If only!

I think about how I pour over old 1880s photos of street scenes in NYC.  I want to just SEE what it was like.  What the people were doing and how they lived. I find it so much more fascinating than the posed pictures. We are the first to provide that level of minutia to future generations.

Maybe it will degrade.  But I bet technology will find a way to preserve it better.  And as long as we continue to be technologically advanced, our massive documentation will be valuable and interesting.  Better because it wasn’t curated.

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