"History, Disrupted" is now available for pre-order

The worldwide release is scheduled for December 7th, 2021

If you’ve been a member of History Club for any amount of time, you’ve heard me speak on Clubhouse about my forthcoming book or have read about it in this newsletter. Finally, after talking about it for more than a year, and researching and writing for more than five years, I’m pleased to announce the book is available for pre-order. It’s scheduled to be released worldwide on December 7th.

Titled History, Disrupted: How Social Media and the World Wide Web Have Changed the Past, the book examines how Web 2.0 and social media have shaped what histories we encounter and what histories we never see. It also addresses how the Web and social media have changed our understandings of history, and speculates on what a future of history might look like in an age of Web 3.0. Along the way it addresses misinformation and disinformation online; the significance of various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Clubhouse; the role of the news media and journalism in circulating stories about the past; the current state of academia; and the steep decline in history majors. Many hot-button issues are addressed in its pages.

Perhaps more important than the book itself, though, are the conversations I hope the book will inspire. Today there are numerous political battles over history, misinformation and social media dominating public discourse—conversations that include journalists, activists, elected officials, scholars, educators, concerned citizens and people in tech. Those conversations often center on outcomes: what curricula should or should not be taught, who should be canceled or de-platformed, what statues should rise or fall. Missing from the conversations are more rigorous examinations of incentives. In other words, the social media and Web 2.0 ecosystems encourage certain types of content creation and discourage others—including history content. By engineering certain types of historical content online and manipulating it to achieve visibility on the Web, actors with an array of agendas can advance political objectives, exacerbate societal divides, and advance their careers. The history we see online is invariably linked to these dynamics; history on the Web has less to do with the accuracy or veracity of information and more with its ability to adhere to a certain set of conditions. Thinking about history in this light changes how we interpret it and understand it. It also begs a question: if we change the incentives, or build new structures that reward different types of content creation, how would that change the histories we learn and encounter each day? Would we get better histories? More accurate histories? Histories that unite as opposed to divide?

History, Disrupted intersects with many segments of society: tech, media, media literacy, journalism, academia, museums and historic sites, social media, blockchain, artificial intelligence, politics, diplomacy, activism, education and more. As such, I hope to engage with members of all of these communities in the months and years ahead. That’s where you come in. The membership of History Club and the readership of this newsletter represents tens-of-thousands of people around the world from numerous segments of society. Together we can bring the ideas from this book into the public sphere. Do you teach at a university or reside at a think tank? Let’s schedule a conversation with your students, faculty or scholars. Do you work in tech? Let’s do a Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces conversation. Are you in government, the military or foreign service? Let’s schedule a briefing. Are you a journalist? Let’s collaborate on an op-ed or a podcast interview. Are you an educator or concerned citizen? Let’s arrange a book event at your local library, bookstore, workplace or in your community.

Much more about the book and its ideas in the weeks and months ahead. Be on the lookout for event invitations, media appearances, and podcasts. And of course, we’ll be hosting conversations in History Club that touch on the book’s themes, including events that celebrate the book launch. This project would not have been possible without Clubhouse, History Club and the wonderful people I’ve met online and through these weekly newsletters. The book is a celebration of all the conversations we’ve had to-date, and an entry point into many more we will have in the future.

Have a good week.

In other news…

For those that didn’t see it on social media, I recently announced that I am now a Global Fellow in the History and Public Policy Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, one of the world’s preeminent think tanks. During this two-year appointment I will continue to work at the intersection of history and tech, and build the field of history communication. More about the Wilson Center in future newsletters.

History, Disrupted: How Social Media and the World Wide Web Have Changed the Past is now available for pre-order. Order on Amazon or through your local, independent bookstore.

Pre-order on Amazon

History Club meets Thursdays at 10 pm ET exclusively on Clubhouse. Want to participate? Suggest a topic for a future conversation.

Haven’t supported the History Club? Please consider it. Your support allows me to publish posts like this.