Ken Burns: I'm Bringing History to the Present

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Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Documentary Director Ken Burns discusses the digitization of media on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg Surveillance." (Source: Bloomberg)

He joins us now on bloomberg "surveillance" on accessing history through a digital lens.

How did you come up with this idea?

The programming i have done over the last 40 years is about one weeks worth, so that takes a while to look at it all.

This is a way to curate all of that stuff.

You work in american history as i have done for the last 40 years, you begin to see trends, patterns.

We have curated, done kind of makes -- kind of mix tapes on innovation, art, politics, times, war tom and it looks at an hour of curated material on a wonderful app that is only on the ipad now and is a terrific way to see the material.

So, tom, who has watched the civil war, baseball -- memorized it.

Is he going to get anything new by watching the app?

I think so.

You remember learning novel "slaughterhouse five"? this is a way to take the theme of race in the app and you can curate stuff going forwards and backwards in time, going in films i made, suddenly followed by something that came before, and you have bits and pieces that give you a new way of seeing it.

Give an example of how you would take something from on race from the civil war, from baseball, etc.

Race is a good example.

I have an introduction, then i come on and do my own introduction to it, then i have a scene from the civil war called "all night forever," about the reality of slavery.

Then we jump back to the master of monticello, talking about thomas jefferson, the man who coined our caddis as him, "all men are created equal," who, whoops, own human beings.

They asked the black slave to vote and the woman, and women were not going to vote for 115 years and black slaves would not vote for 160. you reinvented how we look at history.

Every parent watching this is going my kids will not read the book.

This is not a substitute for reading about jefferson.

Thank you.

And if you go to, we have all the lessons, plans, guides.

It allows teachers, students, and parents to reference this.

I want to rip up the script here.

The president and the president of france travel to monticello yesterday to see thomas jefferson, and behind him, the deer skins of the indians.

What is the significance of the president going to thomas jefferson's home?

It is beyond belief.

It is wrapped in irony because jefferson was the small government president who doubled the size of his country, but he bought from france the continental united states.

He paid $15 million to the french and got all of the louisiana purchase.

He sent $2500 more to find out what $15 million had bought, the lewis and clark journey, more important than the man on the moon.

So they go out into the future of the united states both physically but also by giving -- in social ways that were unexpected.

It is one of the great journeys of all time.

To finish up here, this is in your apps now.

Of course.

All of that is in their in many different -- is in there in many different ways.

You can find it in the race section, in innovation.

We will have ken burns back in a month.

Coming up, we will talk about

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