As a follow-up to the successful publishing of his new book, "Documents That Changed the Way We Live," Associate Professor Joe Janes was asked to think about the future of documents for Publishers Weekly, a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business.
In his opinion piece, Janes says, "What hasn’t changed, though, is the fundamental nature of documents. Our history, as individuals and as societies and cultures, is inextricably and necessarily intertwined with documenting things. Documents provide order and structure to the commonplace parts of our lives. They are always produced within cultural, technological, and social contexts. And in some cases, documents take on great significance for generations to come, sometimes in unexpected and unpredictable ways.
When it comes to the future of documents, about the only thing we can be fairly certain about is that, whatever the format, there will be another, and another, and another, and that they will have multiple (if not-always-well-known) stories behind them. And despite ever more technologies in play, it is important to remember that there are people behind these stories, whether they are the creators or the subjects of these documents."
Janes' book is based on his popular podcast series, Documents that Changed the World, which examines a wide range of historical documents.