Truth and History, how to sort out the tidal wave of information
There is no doubt that thanks to the world wide web, to digital technology and to the ever growing number of amateur historians, that historical data is washing over us all in waves but how to sort the bad from the good and the truth from the, well, not so truthful is something we all have to contend with.
History students are now taught to analyse source material and it’s subsequent interpretations. There may be many reasons to misinterpret an historical event, it may be that there never very much source material to begin with, so people filled in the gaps, it might be that the first interpretation of an event was made at a distance in time.
Sometimes history has been corrupted by those who would use it for their own ends, governments come to mind but it could equally be within our own family, truths squeezed a little to make them fit with expected outcome.
Some history starts as a story, which, then over time, becomes historical fact, the story of Robin Hood falls into this category.
So where does this leave us amateur historians, we have at our fingertips an unimaginable amount of data, much of it sitting there, out of context. We try and draw from it as many connected insights as possible but with the best will in the world, we still see it from the perspective of our modern platform, and with the background of our historical ‘truths’ in the modern world.
Two great phrase comes to mind, ‘Data is not Information’ and ‘Information is not knowledge’.
So it is incumbent upon us all, to make sure, that as all that historical data streaming online today become knowledge
Gosh we’ve got lots to do…..
By the way it was Albert Einstein who said ‘Information is Not Knowledge’