Kim H. Veltman
“Links to Truth and Memory in a Digital Age”
Festschrift in Honour of M. P. Satija, ed. Jagtar Singh, Amritsar, 2008 (In Press).
Traditionally, the quest for truth led to two different strategies within the memory institutions: one was exclusive, focused only on a small corpus that excluded everything else. Another was inclusive with a goal of a universal corpus of collective memory. The pioneers of the Internet and World Wide Web have adopted the same strategies, but in their present form, neither of these positions is taking us closer to the age-old problems of truth. Truth is about claims. These claims cannot always be proven by simple logic. In such cases the challenge lies in creating new links back to original sources, which will allow those who doubt, or those who wish to do further research to go forward. This seemingly simple alternative implies new roles for memory institutions and points to networks beyond the web. It points also to needs for multiple worlds, polyvalent links, levels of authority, and layers of certainty.
Ultimately, as with all other concepts, notions of truth have a history. If we created systems that excluded strictly on the basis of today’s notions of truth, we would exclude much of our collective memory, and the difficult lessons of how we arrived at our current position. A wiser way forward is to include our past and develop new tools to distinguish between its many layers.
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