What are the origins of social networking?

If we restrict ourselves to online, are they .plan files? Usenet newsgroups? BBSes? Minitel? Comments in code on floppies passed around by mainframe programmers?

Or do we consider offline too? Christmas cards, phone trees, 17th century pamphlet wars? Salons? Roman speeches in the Forum?

(I’m hoping not to rathole into definitions here, but for the sake of argument, let’s say social networking is somewhere between private conversations and one to many, institutional broadcast. It’s many to many, it includes relationships in some form, it’s asynchronous or has some persistence over time, and it’s public or at least broader than purely private closed groups.)


15 thoughts on “

  1. @snarfed.org in my view it’s any network made up of social connections. The first tribes were social networks. Some of those tribes settled into more permanent villages and formed social networking platforms.

  2. If we define it as technology-assisted one-to-many bi-directional communication (therefore ruling out the telephone, letters, and so on), I think there’s an argument to be made that it was the newspaper. In the old days, particularly pre-television, local papers in particular would have a lot of mini-stories just about what people were doing with their lives. If we define “technology” as “the internet”, I think it probably really is finger – 1971 is pretty early on, pre-dating usenet by almost a decade and mailing lists by more than that.

  3. @snarfed.org The microblog was an evolution of the blogosphere where it became real-time and mobile friendly to post to(Jaiku and Twitter differed in how they handled responses though, Twitter initially treated any post that begun with a mention as a reply, but didn’t track what it replied to, while Jaiku treated replies as a totally different entity that had different/no length limits and was directly connected to the post it replied to)

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