What's History 2.0? If Web 2.0 is any indication (and yes, we're as tired of pushing the term as you are of reading it), History 2.0 suggests the annals of mankind can be broken open for free perusal, organized as an individual sees fit, and -- dare we say it? -- fair game for revision.
Whether the time for that has come isn't our call to make. But Keesing's World News Archive, a new search and collaboration tool created by the open source and Web 2.0 gurus at Squiz, brings the term devastatingly closer to reality by enabling public-wide search of 76 years of history.
This week's Chicago-based Annual Conference of the International Studies Association witnessed the launch of Keesing's World News Archive. After 76 years of anal-retentive news monitoring, fact-checking, writing and rewriting, the polished results of this scholarly sacrifice have been wedded to search and collaboration technologies on the Keesing's website.
The World News Archive provides a comprehensive and historically accurate perspective of events, as well as their connections throughout time. This means people with an insatiable hunger for history, politics or other tales of the man-made tapestry can tap in and indulge their appetites. And unlike with Lexis-Nexis or other exclusivist information destinations, it doesn't matter whether you're a university student, a government bureaucrat, a corporation or an average civilian.
This isn't just a glorified information search tool -- that's what Google Scholar is for. On the World News Archive, users can also collaborate to create a more integrated picture of the people, places and events that have passed across the last 7.5 decades of world history.
Unlike Wikipedia, the wiki-based encyclopedia system where people can report historical facts and police one another, Keesing's World News Archive does not permit the active revision of history. With technology based on Squiz's MySource Matrix open source CMS solution, content tags enable the linking of common themes consisting of individuals or countries. "Researchers" (a loose term applicable now to any World News Archive participant) can add proprietary tags and share these connections with others, or save specific information in private portfolios.
User-generated tags allow the site to evolve, enabling users to conduct more precise searches, make previously-unacknowledged associations between facts, and explore the eerie undercurrent of themes racing like blood through the vessels of time.
To best describe what Keesing's considers a new value system for historical research, Keesing's coins the term "History 2.0."
"In 'History 2.0,' the creation of historical narratives is no longer the preserve of books and linear concepts - users of Keesing's World News Archive can now make new connections and share their findings with the world," a Keesing's representative explains in the World News Archive press release.
Even post-information revolution, the ability to revise sanctioned versions of history still takes years of research and discovery, big names to back up your research and discovery, then bigger names to help your promote your findings. Just ask Dan Brown. However, the powerful Squiz-made offering empowers users to slowly alter the currents of history, possibly eroding notions we thought were concrete.
History used to be a chronological and devastatingly linear series of events. What World News Archive does is enable people to create contexts around those events, potentially broadening understanding about previously unanswered how's and why's, in addition to potentially humanizing two-dimensional heroes and villains, overall. That's serious editing power.
Access to Keesing's World News Archive is available to just about anybody from US$ 7.95 and up. Limited free content and search functionalities are available on the Keesing's website, listed at the bottom of this article.
Founded in Amsterdam, Keesing's has been in the business of publishing human stories since 1931. Keesing's Record of World Events, formerly Keesing's Contemporary Archives, is their flagship work. Keesing's World News Archive comprises 76 years of their labor, including over 100,000 contemporaneously-written articles linked to related coverage. Learn more about them, or start playing with history itself at the Keesing's site.