Watching History Unfold on the Internet

Jason Hazlewood /
Watch History Unfold Online

History has been viewed over time by ever-widening audiences. Ancient historians like Herodotus got it all started by writing books describing historic events. Hundreds of years later, the printing press made those books more widely available, and more people became educated and learned to read them. In fact, fiction was considered a fanciful pastime until the 1800s, with history and politics being the preferred reading of the upper classes. Newspapers also began circulating current events, so more people got to experience history as it was happening.

Radio and television revolutionized that. From FDR’s Fireside Chats in the 1930’s to the Kennedy assassination, the Moon landing, the Challenger and Columbia explosions, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, history became televised. People could watch it as it was happening, if they were near a television at the right time. Live updates on the news would interrupt regular programming in the form of “breaking stories.”

The obvious next step, then, is streaming history live, as it happens. Live news online gives us up-to-the-minute updates, and streaming video allows us to experience historic events as they unfold. We’ve already seen this in a lot of different contexts, such as during elections and party primaries. News sites like CNN and the New York Times give us live updates on important stories. Even search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing have news pages, in some cases right on the front page when you open the site.

Showing current events on live streams involves viewers even more directly in history. The stream itself happens in real time, so viewers are seeing things like shuttle launches and historic probe missions to far off planets as they happen. The Cassini orbiter, for example, crashed into Saturn and transmitted data right up until it couldn’t anymore. Space enthusiasts were able to watch this as it happened. Other such crash landings were viewable live on television, but having them on the Internet makes it easier for people everywhere to watch live.

WiFi, cell phones, and devices such as tablets and laptops are now also able to stream information, and this opens news and history to more people than ever before. Almost everyone carries at least a cell phone in their pocket, making current events streaming available to anyone with access to one of these devices and a reliable WiFi connection.

An area where this was vital was during the coronavirus outbreak of 2020. Almost all the major news agencies provided live updates with lectures from doctors and healthcare officials on how to prevent the spread of the illness and what to do if you tested positive for coronavirus. With millions of cases testing positive for COVID-19 all over the world, news networks provided vital services in reporting the number of cases, the prevention measures people could take (such as washing hands and social distancing) and the threat to public health that can take place when a bad respiratory illness is allowed to get out of hand by ignoring basic safety measures.

It’s not just that we can watch history stream online, either. Many live streams also have a section for live comments. People can share emojis and opinions on what they are watching with one another as it is happening. This creates a sense of community and camaraderie, even with people we don’t even know other than by an Internet handle, because we’re together in the same way as a crowd watching the same event. Whether it’s the Wave at the World Series or the spiritual bliss of seeing a historic live presentation by the Dalai Lama, we can share it with a community from all over the world.

As the Internet and streaming become more sophisticated, so will the ways we are able to participate actively in our world. We can already watch current events as they unfold, for better or for worse, even over a matter of days. We celebrate triumphs and mourn defeats, get outraged and joyous together. But we are also often so busy that the only reason we even get to view these events is because we have our devices with us. So despite possibly being alone – stuck in traffic, on a break at work, or even at home late at night – we can all still participate in history together and be united by the experience.

This is all made possible by reliable high-speed Internet and the WiFi that has become companion to it, and will continue to improve as 5G is introduced to more neighborhoods. Does your Internet allow you to live stream effectively and without lag? If you are interested in knowing what’s available in your area, even if you have Internet service already, tell our comparison site your zip code. We will show you all the providers and their rates, so you can compare what you have to what’s available and get the best deal. Then you and your family can watch historic events as they happen, and enjoy everything else the Internet has to offer.