‘A first draft of the present: Why we must preserve social media content‘, The Conversation, 16 May 2016
History is written on the basis of records that survive and are accessible. Even journalism has traditionally been described as ‘the first draft of history’.
In their ability to instantly gather and coordinate the collective public response to current events, then, social media don’t just write history. They represent something much more immediate: social media are a first draft of the present … But like all drafts, theirs is fragile and easily lost – a loss which, we believe, would impact significantly on future historians’ ability to understand the story of humanity in the early twenty-first century.
The article looks at what efforts are being made to preserve social media content. The author refers to a recently written academic paper on the subject.
Tangentially related to this paper is the Brian Johns lecture by Julianne Schultz on preserving Australian culture against global tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook.