Archive for September, 2010

Perspective in a Dizzying World

September 10, 2010

Every now and then its good to take a moment and look back–and think about the moments in time that you have lived through that help you shape your world.  There is connective tissue that runs through generations–what will my kids learn about 9/11 in history classes and how will that jive with my recollection of being there as the second tower fell, or as a plane flew into the south tower?

Each year there is a fascinating list pulled together by Beloit College that in essence helps teachers and professors understand what point of reference today’s students have.   Take a moment and take a look–and go back a few years, see what had occurred in your life that your children or even today’s college students won’t know.

For instance, I can remember as plain as day Jesse Orosco throwing his glove in the air as the 1986 Mets won the world series.  I was in Paul Taffet’s room on the third floor of Warner Hall at the University of Bridgeport.

Jesse Orosco's glove never landed

The Mets Win, The Mets Win

Now while I was alive in 1969, I do not recall the Mets winning the World Series that year.

The Miracle Mets win

Post world series celebration at Shea in 1969, or so I am told

Clearly 1986 had more impact on me than 1969.  Take a more universal subject–the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.  Again, I can recall exactly where I was when it occurred-getting a breakfast sandwich at the cafe in the basement of the student center at the University of Bridgeport.  In fact, I can remember watching the images and realizing that what I was seeing did not match the audio from mission control for the shortest of times.

Space Shuttle Challenger explodes after take off

The first shuttle disaster: Challenger explodes shortly after take off.

But the difference between those events and something that occurs today is the instant record.  I know Challenger exploded.  I know the Mets won it all in ’86.  I am pretty positive they on in ’69.  Certainly I can go back in my mind and recall the events–at least of ’86.  And I can easily research the events either electronically or even via the Dewey Decimal System (if you don’t know Dewey Decimal click the link) at my local public library.

But take an event like last night’s gas line explosion in San Bruno, CA–there is an instant real-time record of the event, as it happens.  That record includes images, videos, commentary, eye-witness accounts, fact, fiction, reality, conjecture and is ongoing.

While the San Bruno fire may not be taught in history classes years from now (or perhaps it will be, we don’t know) the moments that I can recall from 1986 are now preserved.

What impact will that have on history and the way history is taught?

My friend Heather Kovar at News 12 Connecticut did some checking into that:

All these tools we use–Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Blogs, SMS, apps that keep us connected also help us to form our views on the world around us.  Remember what you mom used to tell you, first impressions are the lasting impressions.  And beyond that, in this digital age–those first impressions that people have of you are captured and “Googleable” forever–so make them count.

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