Friending the Past: The Sense of History and Social Computing

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Reflecting on the relation between the media ages of orality, writing, and digital networking, Liu asks the question: what happens today to the “sense of history” that was the glory of the high age of print? In particular, what does the age of social computing—social networking, blogs, Twitter, etc.—have in common with prior ages in which the experience of sociality was deeply vested in a shared sense of history? Liu focuses on a comparison of nineteenth-century historicism and contemporary Web 2.0, and concludes by touching on the RoSE Research-oriented Social Environment that the Transliteracies Project he directs has been building to model past bibliographical resources as a social network. (Source: author's abstract)

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The digital sense of history may not be history as it really was, but it is information as it should really be: an experience of mediated communication that—as a condition of what it means to be social—is historical to the core.

My argument is that the amplest experience of sociality includes the society that is history, and social media will be more fully human if it remembers that.

Cultural-political theorists of digital-age “empire” (in the tradition of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri), academic critics of new media, and hactivist or tactical-media theorists (in the tradition of the Critical Art Ensemble) point out in various ways that Web 2.0 is still complicit with the confining structures of history.

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Eric Dean Rasmussen