At this point in time if I want to know the name of my fourteenth forefather I’ll have to either ask my grandparents or go to the holy city of Kashi and search the books maintained by the pundits. However, even if I get to know his name or see his picture (provided that I have the blue blood), still I’ll never be able to know how his voice sounded, what he stood for, his hobbies, lifestyle and his major life events. Now let’s imagine all the people in the year 2017 who have Facebook accounts, their future fourteenth generation will just be a few clicks away from their fourteenth forefather’s life events in precise detail. From the type of interests he had, countries he visited, his friends, girlfriend, wife, organisations he worked for, things he founded, hobbies and to the happiest and saddest events that he went through in his life, everything will be visible on his account’s timeline. Through the videos posted by his forefather, a person would be able to see him moving, reacting and talking. A person would even be easily able to discover on such social media websites, his long chain of cousins, if any of his ancestors belonged to a foreign land or rather got married to a foreigner or if at all they migrated.
This kind of a data will have emotional value and the big social media giants might as well want to sell this sort of a data in the future. World leaders, religious teachers, authoritative figures of the present will be much easier to study ages from now, thanks to the history that data is shaping the future. Historians’ job profile will not remain narrow to the scope of books and monuments. Rarely will they be seen unearthing an artefact from the sands equipped with a magnifying glass and a brush with a hat on the head to hide from the sun. The historians of the far future will be rather seen probing into blogs, posts, images, likes, comments and websites of historical importance in an air-conditioned room sitting on a comfortable chair and sipping their hot coffee.
Subjects and different bodies of knowledge will emerge across the universities in the world which will teach the method in which one has to go about investigating and studying rich history lying in soft copy or online. Ceteris paribus, with our current civilization, has survived wars, famines, calamities and epidemics, this historical data will even be well preserved since it will not be destroyed by the wrath of time as everything will be available in an intangible form. Even today, many at times historians are seen struggling on making proper assumptions and stand baffled at some discoveries because it challenges their knowledge on the happening of events in the timeline of history but this will become a thing of past as the records will be clear and precise.
We do not really know when exactly did ‘want to’ became ‘wanna’ and how the word ‘metrosexual’ was first made or rather whose thought it was. Evolution of languages will be much easier to study ages from now. They’ll be able to tell that this word was first used in a particular blog, article or status update. A historian of data will be able to tell when and under what circumstances did a word exactly evolve or was born and why is it that two different languages from faraway lands sound so similar in phonetics with harmony in their meanings. For example, linguists are astounded at how Swedish sounds almost same as Sanskrit, to the point where even their meanings are same. Probably, there was a great migration that took place from India and the diaspora thrived in the land which we today call Sweden. The event must have gone unrecorded or deteriorated in the accounts from the past. This mystery wouldn’t have existed if this would have happened in the age of data and internet.
We have seen rulers in the past who have tried to manipulate history in a manner that would make them remembered as magnanimous and courageous through getting their royal testimonials or narratives modified by their account keepers. We will see similar manipulations by leaders and their confidants take place in creating their larger than life image once they foresee this aspect of the data environment. The data environment is dynamic and is still young compared to other sciences but in this short span, it has already gained much prominence.
As humans, we are wired to seek information irrespective of our profession, interest, age and ethnicity. This inquisitiveness of the human species will give birth to the industry of online data history and will result in its expansion in the forthcoming centuries. This industry will give rise to new jobs, disciplines and eye-opening discoveries, which our coming generations will stand witness to.
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Debashish Roy, is a twenty-two-year-old graduate in B. Com from Christ University, Bangalore. Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma is one of his treasured credentials. He is pursuing his MBA in Business Analytics from UPES, Dehradun and is an aspiring data professional.