Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Internet as a social history or people sticking old pictures on FaceBook

The Internet now makes saving peoples personal history easier than ever. That's a pretty obvious statement to people who's been using the web for a long time, but for some it's nothing short of a miracle.

Recently my sister died, very suddenly and unexpected. She'd just joined FaceBook and hadn't added must stuff but what she did add is still there and it's nice to look back and see her writing and pictures, I can hear her reading them as I read them. When she died I created a group for people to leave their memories of her and also as a way to let people who she knew but had lost touch with what had happened. The response was amazing with over 100 people joining and many leaving memories of her as well as their own pictures with her in.

My parents aren't on the Internet and probably never will be so they'll never get to see the group. I printed out everything which had been posted and gave it to them and her husband. They were overwhelmed with the response and amazed that this could have happened. The great thing is that that group, which is still active is a social history of my sister in a way that could never have happened before the Internet and FaceBook in particular.

I was just browsing FaceBook again a few minutes ago and found a group all about memories and pictures of Sheffield, my home city. Normally the images here, well over 500, would have been in dusty boxes in a back room or in a museum collection. But know they're there for people to look through, comment and add your own to whenever you want.

If I needed to find out about my past I needed to talk to the older generation who would take their stories and images with them when they died. My children will have an amazing record of nearly everything I ever did and everything everyone else ever did too. I still find that truly amazing.

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