One of my major frustrations about the Internet is how little information is available from the pre-Internet days. Google News has archives of old articles, yet many of the articles are blocked by a paywall. As a result, if you want to read and learn more about a subject from before the 1990s, you have to trust someone else's account of it. These filtered reports can be informative in providing the basics to topics, people and events, but they can never provide a real glimpse into the subject, as if it were unfolding or relevant today.
That's why the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum's new project is so revolutionary. The museum has established a Twitter feed - JFK__1960 - that is following JFK's 1960 campaign trail as if it was being marched today. Daily updates will illustrate what Kennedy did on that day, fifty years earlier. This multimedia project allows people who were born in the decades after Kennedy's term to experience what it was like to follow the young leader's ascent.
Obama's campaign in 2008 brought an aura of excitement to politics that this Kennedy re-imagining hopes to capitalize on. There are inevitable parallels that people will draw between the two men and their rises to the presidency. But more than acting as a political bridge between the men and the generations, this project has the potential to separate truths from myths about Kennedy.
Just a few weeks ago, TMZ ran a photo that purportedly showed Kennedy's philandering ways. Others quickly proved the photo to be a fake, but the short saga also proved that Kennedy maintains a cultural presence even 50 years later. The Kennedy museum's mission offers an authentic look at the man, for better or for worse.
Here's hoping the mission is a success. Because if 2010's look at the 1960 campaign finds popularity, maybe organizers will continue the project into the presidency itself. Then we won't have to rely on articles written after the era - about the era - reporting on Kennedy's successes and failures; we'd see firsthand what he did and didn't do, and be able to make our own judgments like we do about our current president.