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What Will Future Historians Think of Today?

Every historian uses a number of different sources to explore the past. For example, if you are researching the history of video slots, it would be a good idea to play Vegas online slots. Today’s historians mainly use books, official records, newspapers, letters, in short, written sources in their research. Well, what sources do you think future historians will use? A hundred years from now, through which sources will the 2000s enter the history books? We share our thoughts on this subject below.

Fundamental Research Sources of History Will Change

Currently, historians all over the world use written sources when researching. The scope of these is quite extensive: some researchers use old newspapers; others search for missing letters. This is normal because visual historical records can only be accessed after a certain period of time. For example, there are no photographs before 1825 because this technology was discovered in 1826. If you are doing research on the 17th century, you can only use written sources and their number will be very limited. Therefore, to understand that period, you may need to look not only at official records but also through books, letters and even diaries. The further back in history we go, the fewer resources we can use.

Future historians will not have such a problem. They will have so many resources to understand the 2000s that they will have to choose between them. For the last 20 years, we have been recording both our professional and daily lives digitally. We use tons of storage even just for official records. People share every moment of their lives on social media with posts, photos and videos: future historians will have access to almost all of them. This will enable them to conduct more detailed and consistent research. For example, if you currently want to write about the history of the 19th century Bakunin dynasty, you must gain access to the Bakunin family archive. Even with this permission, the letters and records in the archive will not tell you everything you want to know. But if you want to write the history of the Trump family 100 years from now, you will be able to do so easily: you can see what Trump did every day using just the internet. You can also find out about Trump’s personal thoughts by following his social media accounts: if only the Bakunin dynasty had a Facebook account…

More Resources Doesn’t Mean Everything Will Be Understood Better

However, the fact that you can access more resources does not mean that you can better understand the 2000s. To give a simple example, in order to understand the general situation in any country in the 17th century, it is enough to look at the letters written at that time. Those letters will give you an understanding of what has been going on over those years, what the public and aristocrats thought about political and social developments, in short, what the general dynamics of society were. The letters written at that time, especially those of the educated, were extremely long and each contained information about different aspects of social life. Just by browsing the letters, you can find out what happened in a small town in Austria in 1692, for example.

Today, we no longer write letters, we send emails. But none of these emails contain lengthy reviews of social and political conditions: they are all short and often business-related. We share our personal opinions on social media, but instead of making general evaluations, we talk about ourselves. Let’s give an example: in the 16th century, spa-bathing was very common among the European aristocracy and almost turned into a frenzy. You can find out the reasons for this just by reading the letters from that period: you can see how spa-bathing, which started as a precaution against the smallpox epidemic, turned into an addiction, and you can make a coherent assessment of the social conditions at that time, even after almost 400 years. Future historians, for example, will be able to find thousands of videos about the Ice Bucket Challenge, but will most likely not be able to learn why this trend started and why it became so popular.


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