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History, memory, and the impact online: Mandela in Detroit 1990

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Today we learned the sad news that Nelson Mandela had died. And for many of us that meant taking to the internet in order to remember and celebrate his tremendous life.

In 1990, I had an opportunity to see Mandela at Tiger live at Tiger Stadium. For those who were in attendance that day it was a profound, moving experience. Just three months after his release from prison after 25 years, the Tiger Stadium event made you proud to be human and proud to be in Detroit that day.

I always regretted not bringing a camera with me to the Mandela Detroit visit. I was young and somehow I thought my memory would last forever. While the speech was broadcast on many television stations, it wasn't something that one could easily obtain even a few years later from a television station. But tonight, as I heard the news of Mandela's death, I googled "Mandela in Detroit." To my great surprise I connected with an entire group of persons who had posted pictures, videos, and live footage of the event.

This type of archiving of history which is now readily available at our fingertips is new to the world. The United States Holocaust Museum recently posted a series of photos from an orphanage of missing children from more than six decades ago. Amazingly, through the power of the internet, many of those children were found as senior citizens and their stories written and preserved for all of history.

While well known films of historic newsworthy events have long been played on news on the anniversaries of triumphs and tragedies alike, the ability of one to access other's historical recordings and memories of an event they experienced or attended is an amazing technological feat. The personalization of history on the internet is spawning an industry of family history sites including ancestry.com, geni.com, and many others. But the ability to easily connect with an event that moved you and thousands of others and share it nearly 24 years later has many implications for both technology and society.

No doubt this type of information can and will be organized into more useful and better portals and communities in the future. But until then, you can see a visit preserved and reproduced years later by just clicking here.

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