From communication of historical knowledge to time travels
Manolis Patiniotis – National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Greece
Petros Petridis – National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Greece
Elias Stouraitis – National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Greece
The communication of historical knowledge to the wider public has long been a crucial practice for the constitution of nation-states and the ideological control of their citizens. The locus of this communication has traditionally been the impenetrable interface between professional historians and archaeologists, on the one hand, and the “lay people”, on the other. The values that were involved in this exchange across the border of expertise were truth and lie or prevarication: The stories narrated by the experts were perceived either as indisputable matters of fact or as intentional attempts to misrepresent the past in order to legitimize particular forms of social order.
A new cultural technology that becomes gradually available to the public as a result of the transition to the digital era changes the rules of the game. This technology is, indeed, gamification and concerns the spread of skills and social practices associated with computer games to a range of social activities that transcend gaming and computing themselves. Among other things, gamification affects the way people perceive the established intellectual hierarchies: “Why read about ancient Rome when I can build it?” is an astute question raised by an elementary school student at a Game Developer's Conference.
Taking advantage of the affordances provided by gaming technologies, “lay people” can make sense of the contingency of historical events. They not only accept or question the accuracy of mainstream historical accounts, but are able to fashion timelines that persuasively lead to alternative historical configurations. The aim of the presentation is to explore the consequences of this new cultural technology for the communication of historical knowledge, and contemplate about the new forms of historical awareness that arise as a result of the public involvement in the production of expert knowledge.
The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.