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Writing history in the age of the Internet

Updated: 2014-04-02 07:43
By Chen Yanru ( China Daily)

Since its inception, the Internet has always been closely associated with the production, distribution and consumption of news. Journalism is often said to be history in a hurry, and the Internet has become one of the very first "gatekeepers" of information about events and people that might go down in history. Nothing is as old as yesterday's news, and so yesterday's news may already be tomorrow's history.

However, historians have merely scratched the surface of the topic by making references to the Internet as a source of historical research, there is little said about how the Internet will influence the way history is recorded in the future.

The rules and regulations governing the making and writing of history evolved, developed and matured in the age of the traditional media, especially print media. There was only a highly limited amount of information about events and opinions that could enter into the media record, which was considered by many scholars to be the initial draft of history. Of course there were other records, private or public, of all sorts. But the key feature of this pre-Internet history was that the distinction between the public and private spheres of "historical record" was clear, there was a clear line between what was written for the purpose of being read by others and what was meant to be strictly kept to oneself.

Writing history in the age of the Internet

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