Continued Experience

“Not a thing but a continued experience”
E.P. Thompson was speaking of class in his foreword when he wrote the above quote. I believe the line is more about history in general than his research topic. As history moves forward and evolves it and the subjects of research become a continued experience. Thompson used his own methodology to support his interpretation of class in late 18th and early 19th English society, contemporary historians can develop new methods to demonstrate their historical interpretations. Just as Thompson built on the previous work of others, strengthening some arguments and debunking others, current historians must create their own methodology to support their work. One of the new tools modern historians have that was not available to Thompson is the technology, expertise, and network of knowledge on the internet. The Net has revolutionized other fields and it has the ability to continue the experience of history.
Weinberger states that “science is doing better than ever.” (156) He attributes this primarily to the network of knowledge and information available on the internet. This new web of knowledge has allowed the field of science to expand exponentially. The Net has enabled scientists to work together in ways never before possible. This has also all happened within the last few years. This rapid expansion of the scientific field has led to new discoveries and reach different audiences. The field of science is experience rapid growth and it’s largely due to the network of information and organized expertise. Weinberger does sarcastically admit that there are a few stubborn scientists who wish to remove themselves from the Net and conduct their research isolated from other scientists. He also cautions of the potential for falsehoods as a result of the Net and the media, but on the whole the Net is a positive force for scientific discovery. I wonder how this relates to the field of history.
To me it seems that the historical field has more possible holdouts than the scientific field when it comes to using the Net to its full potential. Science, because its direct link to technology, advances at a rapid pace while history takes time to develop and evolve. Time has to go by for history to take place. This makes history advance at a slower pace. If historians were to embrace the wealth of knowledge and expertise available to them on the web, then history could make leaps similar to science. As Ben Schmidt’s website showed us one of the ways to relay a message from history to a large audience in a remarkably short amount of time. If new technology and collaborative efforts are utilized the historical field may be able to make better use of the resources available via the Net. Not only does this quicken the pace of historical research, but it also expands history’s reach to a mass audience.
A networked history helps experts and society better understand both current and past events. This network draws expertise from multiple fields and creates what Eley found during his time at Oxford, an interdisciplinary study. The Net could be the next big thing in the historical field. It could lead to new types of research and different perspectives that may redefine history as a discipline. I think the Net, like social history in past generations of historical research, has the ability to “make the world knowable through history.” (59)