Changing history . . .

Can We Trust Historical Records?

by Conrad Weisert, January 13, 2016
©Information Disciplines, Inc.

. . . the White House issued a statement from then-President Bush about the economy improving. "When it didn't, they went back and edited a press release from a few years prior so they could say, 'look, we were right'"—Esther Shein, "Preserving the Internet", Communications of the ACM, January, 2016, p. 26, quoting Kalev Leetaru

Historians say that Mikhail Gorbachev changed history more than any man alive.   OK, except for Oliver Stone, but he came pretty close.—Jay Leno, NBC Tonight

The Internet presents a disturbing duality:

So valid information can get deleted or altered, while invalid information can endure forever. That's part of the price we're paying for the free and open Internet.

A few societies still try to apply strict censorship, blocking Internet access from users in their area to information that they don't like. Josef Goebbels wouldn't have tolerated open Internet access. But technology is rendering such censorship harder and harder to enforce. It would take a worldwide oppressive and effective dictatorship to restrict the information citizens can see.

Of course, Americans know of an older repository of important records that can be altered by its custodians so that it no longer represents what actually happened:   The Congressional Record.

Last modified January 14, 2016

Return to IDI home page
Culture topics.