News Archives

You can tell the difference between people in how they use tools. For example, when Google released their Google News Archives (“Google Opens Up 200 years of news”, BBC), some people decide to ‘ego search’. Talking about ‘historical relevance’.

I read most of the Dutch literature about the fall of the Dutch Indies (to be honest, there isn’t much literature about it, but for now you can just pretend there is) in the early Forties, so, I decided to do a search for ‘Surabaya’, which happened to be the main Dutch naval base at that time. Google allows for refining the search by years, so the relevant time period (1940s) gives amazing results. Most of them are Time Magazine reports (obviously with a typical American slant) that describe the over-optimistic feelings towards the (impending) Japanese invasion on Java island. Reading the following fragment surely describes in what world the military lived in those days:

Designed originally for defense from sea assault, Surabaya had already felt bombs from the air, expected land assaults from the rear before long. But there was still hope in Batavia. Colonial Dutchmen quoted their Admiral: “Who knows better than the people of our islands the profound truth of the time-hallowed saying: ‘The tide will turn’?”

Quite over-optimistic, I’d say. That said, Google’s News Archives, is obviously more of value for historians than the ‘ego searching A-list blogger’.

Update: Related Businessweek article plus Slashdot discussion.

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