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[Cross-posted to Revise & Dissent]

Hyde Park
You can run, but you can’t Hyde. Photo by teacherafael.

Google now has opened up a news archive reaching back a couple of centuries, reports the BBC. My first impressions of mixed. I looked for Sir Arthur Evans, and found the vast majority of stories were behind paywalls. However Time has open archives, so you can read about a Tale of Two Palaces and the Truth About Knossos?. If you’re planning a little hero-worship of biographical blogging there there’s also scope for surprise. Sir Arthur Evans is mentioned in passing with another story, Knights Must Play, about Sir Leo Chiozza Money. I wouldn’t mention it as Evans is only briefly named, were it not for description of Chiozza’s arrest in Hyde Park:

The persons on the chairs were, in the opinion of the constables, “behaving in a manner reasonably likely to offend against public decency.” Therefore strong hands were laid upon the young woman, who remained passive, and upon the gentleman, who roared: “Hands off! I’m not the usual riffraff! I’m a man of substance!”

Isaac Asimov wrote a story The Dead Past, in which an ancient historian wanted to use a chronoscope, a device that could peer into the past, to examine ancient Carthage. He was denied access to the chronoscope and so sought to make his own. What he found was a device which could see anywhere and anywhen could see anywhere and anywhen. Privacy became a thing of the past.

Google isn’t the cause, but it is a symptom of an information society where privacy will become a thing of the past. Our generation will be particularly rich pickings as we don’t yet know how bad things could be. It’s a historian’s dream, but perhaps the subject’s nightmare.