History and the Responsibility of Technology


Mine is an ever changing view of the information technology we all use so much. Sometimes I see the paradoxical personal disconnection that happens to some when they embrace the world of mobile phones and computers, text messages and internet chat. At times the digital divide seems like the Grand Canyon. And... sometimes I am simply entertained.

This day, however, I am entombed in thought over the staggering amount of information that some of us have access to for the first time in History.

History. I heard once that the past occurred and history is drafted. I heard that it is a historian's job, not only to document the sequence of events, but also to bring life to the story - to make it tangible and understandable. Indeed it must be that painting the past appropriately is a massively impossible job. I sit and wonder just how appropriately it has been painted for us all? How skilled were the artists which colored our collective past for us? I think it is important to note that TRUTH, especially in a historical sense, is incredibly elusive and perhaps even impossible. But glimmers of the truth are there - partially obscured by time, human error, and even agenda - but nonetheless discoverable by the motivated.

This day always leaves me bitter sweet. I feel like much has been painted pastel when perhaps primary colors would have been best. But I am thankful that I (we) can dive into that staggering amount of information and try to find the right colors for ourselves. Please consider the technology at your disposal, on this traditionally thoughtful day, as ALSO a tool to help us all become more knowledgeable about our past, thus our future, and as a result a little more...human. Here are a few quotes to stimulate the mind and motivation:

Professor Johnston often said that if you didn't know history, you didn't know anything. You were a leaf that didn't know it was part of a tree.

~Michael Crichton, Timeline

The past remains integral to us all, individually and collectively. We must concede the ancients their place, as I have argued. But their place is not simply back there in a separate and foreign country; it is assimilated in ourselves, and resurrected into an ever-changing present.

~David Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country

Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive. Has any act of selfishness ever equaled the carnage perpetrated by disciples of altruism?

~Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

The historian has been the hearth at which the soul of the country has been kept alive.

~John Morley, Notes on Politics and History

Delusion about history is a serious matter; it can gravely affect the history that is waiting to be made.

~John Terraine

There is nothing more dangerous than history used as a defense, or history used for preaching; history used as a tool is no longer history.

~Marcel Trudel

It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts.

~Bill Vaughan

It is a great pity that every human being does not, at an early stage of his life, have to write a historical work. He would then realize that the human race is in quite a jam about truth.

~Rebecca West

History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription molders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?

~Washington Irving, The Sketch Book: Westminster Abbey

History is the transformation of tumultuous conquerors into silent footnotes.

~Paul Eldridge, Maxims for a Modern Man

If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come


Our first teacher is our own heart


Man's law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same


We will be known forever by the tracks we leave


The one who tells the stories rules the world


Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself


It is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace and live in peace


All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself