The expression “age of abundance” has been introduced by the American historian Roy Rosenzweig (1950-2007) to describe the period since the digital revolution and the invention and generalisation of the Internet, marked by the abundance of primary sources available and accessible for historical research and opposite to the “age of scarcity”. In fact, nowadays, primary sources from around the world and from all periods are accessible to researchers thanks to digitization and digital archiving. Furthermore, the digital revolution has given birth to a new type of primary sources, namely digital born sources.
Instead of facing a lack of sources, historians are confronted with a potentially complete historical record and the risk of information overload. In consequence, the methodology and the heuristics of research of the discipline need to be adapted, even though many historians are reluctant to make use of the new tools.
The digital revolution has another consequence in the field of archiving. Digital born and digitized sources are fragile and lack of sustainability. This is why new methods to preserve sources for the future in a digital era have to be developed.
ROSENZWEIG R., “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era”, in The American Historical Review, vol. 108 / n° 3 (2003), p. 735-762.
FICKERS A., “Towards a new Digital Historicism? Doing History in the Age of Abundance”, in Journal of European History and Culture, vol. 1 / n° 1 (2012), p. 1-9.« Back to Glossary Index