Somewhere in your house, probably in the attic, is a scrapbook that contains the yellowed newspaper clippings of your life.

That picture of your Little League team that won the championship. The beauty contest where you finished second.

The one where you got honorable mention for acting in a school play. The time your Girl Scout troop sold the most cookies.

Your wedding announcement. The birth of a child. The death of a loved one. Your promotion to assistant vice president. The time you dressed up as Santa Claus for underprivileged children.

It's all there, framed and hanging on the wall, collected, catalogued and carefully kept in the family archives for posterity to celebrate in years to come.

First draft

But things are changing rapidly.

We are, no doubt, caught in a tornado of informational change, watching the world swirl around us, caught in a wind-strewn storm of change, racing toward a destination unknown.

All for the best, they say.

More stuff faster. So fast, in fact, it's almost impossible to know what is or is not important. By the time you know it, it's time to know something else.

Worst of all, there's no record of what happened, if indeed, it really happened at all.

I know that someday this wonderful thing known as a newspaper may eventually disappear from the planet. Not next year, or even a decade from now, but somewhere down the digital road.

But for centuries, newspapers have been the first draft of history. Right now, for instance, my colleague Brian Hicks is in the midst of a 20-part series about the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The reading is so fascinating because he's able to walk into our morgue, dig through the files and come up with detailed descriptions of what the war was like here, direct from the pages of The Mercury, a former Charleston newspaper.

Where else, I ask, would this kind of reportorial detail exist?

Memory stick

As I peer into the future of information, the thing I fear most is the loss of credibility.

What will become of history when all we have to fall back on is Wikipedia?

The Internet has provided us many wondrous things. And while it has altered the way we communicate, it also has rendered us incapable of in-depth discovery.

Whatever pops up on a Google search is what we take as gospel. Very seldom do we even make it to the second page, or double-check the facts.

If this is how the world of tomorrow is going to learn about the past, we may never know anything about anything anymore.

And all those minor moments of personal glory? Instead of being framed and hanging on the wall, they'll be on a memory stick in a drawer, somewhere, if you can find it.

Reach Ken Burger at 937-5598 or follow him on Twitter at @Ken_Burger. To read previous columns, go to