Social Media Goes Down in History

We tweet, we like, we follow, and we share. But it wasn’t always that way. If you tell your parents to tweet about something, they might look at you like you have three heads. It speaks to how new social is and where its biggest impacts lie. But the fact is, social has been around for a really long time – just not in the same way that we think of social today.

Here’s a brief timeline of the evolution of social to what we know it to be today:

1950s Phone Phreaking —> 1960s Email —> 1969 ARPANET —> 1970s MUD —> 1978 BBS (Bulletin Board System) —> 1990s Modern Social Networking

So what is all of that? Let’s start with phone phreaking. Sounds phreaky, but it’s not. The term refers to Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.40.26 AMpeople who used go rogue on the telephone lines to try and use circuits to make free calls. Many phreaks ended up hacking into corporate unused voice mailboxes to host the first forms of blogs and podcasts.

Next came email. Okay, we all know what email is, but in the 1960s, email was very exclusive. The Internet was not publicly available until decades later, but a basic infrastructure for email did exist in which both computers that were looking to exchange communication messages needed to be online at the same time. Email has certainly evolved since then, but think about it, aren’t we almost always connected now on our smartphones?

ARPANET in the late 60s refers to the Advanced Research Projects Agency. ARPANET was an “early network of time sharing computers that formed the basis of the internet.” Two key words jump out in that description: “time” and “sharing.” Isn’t the basis of modern social media based around real-time sharing? Hmm, we’re on to something here.

By the 1970s social started to become more sophisticated with virtual worlds like MUD and real-time information sharing platforms like the Bulletin Board System, which allowed people to upload and download files as well as post and share information and news.

Finally came modern social networks and social media in the early 1990s. By 1991 the Internet was publicly available, and that created a rush to be the biggest and best social network out there. Many failed, few still exist.

The history that social has painted is an interesting one. It shows us that being social is in our nature. We want to interact with others and create communities where we can be social. So now that we have taken a peak at the past, let’s look into the future. How are you social now, and how do you imagine us being social in the future? Share you comments below or tweet me @JaredMandel!

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