“History, Disrupted”: How Social Media and the World Wide Web Have Changed the Past
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The Internet has changed the past. Social media, Wikipedia, mobile networks, and the viral and visual nature of the Web have filled the public sphere with historical information and misinformation, changing what we know about our history. This is the first book to chronicle how and why it matters. From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithms, history has been widely communicated and fiercely contested across the social Web as battles over the 1619 Project, the Trump presidency, Confederate monuments and history textbooks have exploded into public view. How does history intersect with today’s most pressing debates? How does history contribute to online debates about misinformation, disinformation, journalism, tribalism, activism, democracy, politics and identity? At the start of a new decade, in the midst of growing political division around the world, this information is critical to an engaged citizenry. As we collectively grapple with the effects of technology and its capacity to destabilize our societies, scholars, educators and the general public should be aware of how the Web and social media shape what we know about ourselves - and crucially, about our past.
Jason Steinhauer is a Global Fellow at The Wilson Center; Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute; contributor to TIME and CNN; past editorial board member of The Washington Post "Made by History" section; Presidential Counselor of the National WWII Museum; and former Founding Director of the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest. In 2020, he founded the History Club on Clubhouse, which he hosts regularly. The club has more than 100,000 members and averages 2,500 listeners per week. In 2021, he created the first cryptocurrency devoted to history, $JASON coin, which will be used to provide grants for public-facing history projects. In 2014, he coined the term "History Communicators" and has worked with colleagues worldwide to found the new field of History Communication, and is the founder of the History Communication Institute. Jason has twice traveled overseas with the U.S. Department of State as part of diplomatic exchanges between the United States and the European Union, meeting with government officials, scholars and students to discuss the effects of the Web and social media on public understandings of news, history and information. He has spoken at events across the United States and Europe and appears frequently in the media.
The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University and the National History Center) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partners (the George Washington University History Department and the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest) for their continued support.
Christian F. Ostermann
Woodrow Wilson Center
Professor of History, The George Washington University. Director, National History Center of the American Historical Association.
Kathryn Cramer Brownell
Claire L. Lanier
History and Public Policy Program
The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs. Read more
Science and Technology Innovation Program
The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) brings foresight to the frontier. Our experts explore emerging technologies through vital conversations, making science policy accessible to everyone. Read more
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