Not sure if this idea exists already, but it would be a cool project idea for anyone ambitious enough to do it. What about creating a social network site that leverages famous poems, speeches, and quotations, and integrated them into the web by allowing submitters to add links to famous text that existed before the web. The links could show
- how the meanings of words changed over time
- how static human nature is
- how politicians lie and lied
- how religious material changes over time
- how bogus and misguided most forms of patriotism are
- whether cultural norms should change
- or anything else you are interested in
There is a lot of marketing potential in history. Google realizes it, and is already exploiting it, but not to its full potential. Invariably traditional publishers are losing control due to network efficiency. Warner is already threatening to sue Google over YouTube, but YouTube just sold for 1.65 billion. I think historical text (and maybe personalized versions of it) is another vertical which is low hanging fruit like video once was.
Part of Google's move toward trying to be the default hard drive for different types of information is such that they can add context to whatever you are doing. Some of that context will be relevant ads, but the other piece of it will be useful related ideas based on other's usage data.
I think the best way to make the wisdom of the past appealing to a wide audience would be by making it interactive and showing how it is relevant to today. Some amount of that can be automated, but given how many people are trying to interpret the meaning of lyrics and how layered great writing is you would think there is a market for adding personalized or opinionated context to historical text.
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