Social Media in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution

As the French like to say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Before there was Twit­ter, Face­book and Google+ (click to fol­low us), Euro­peans liv­ing in the sev­en­teenth and eigh­teenth cen­turies had to deal with their own ver­sion of infor­ma­tion over­load. Emerg­ing postal sys­tems, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of short let­ters called bil­lets, and the birth of news­pa­pers and pam­phlets all pumped unprece­dent­ed amounts of infor­ma­tion — valu­able infor­ma­tion, gos­sip, chat­ter and the rest — through new­ly-emerg­ing social net­works, which even­tu­al­ly played a crit­i­cal role in the French Rev­o­lu­tion, much like Twit­ter and Face­book proved instru­men­tal in orga­niz­ing the Arab Spring.

These his­tor­i­cal social net­works are being care­ful­ly mapped out by schol­ars at Stan­ford. Above, we have Anaïs Saint-Jude paint­ing the his­tor­i­cal pic­ture for us. Below Dan Edel­stein gives you a clos­er look at Stan­ford’s Map­ping the Repub­lic of Let­ters project.

via Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty News

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.