(Not) A History of Social Media

Paul Starr’s The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications has been sitting unread on my bookcase for far too long. I’ve only just begun reading it, and, in spite of the rather plodding pace, I’m finding it immensely interesting. I may write more about the book another time, but for now—though the book has made no mention of this particular sphere—it has me reflecting on the notion of social media. I am a light user of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, and I recently had a conversation with friends over Chinese food about this newfangled idea that anyone cares what I’m doing right now or with whom. Only later when I had on my more academic thinking cap, did it occur to me that I know very well that social media is by no means new. A Google search on the history of social media will likely tell you that the phenomenon is at least 30 years old. Beth Hayden and Rafal Tomal trace is origins to the first email, sent by researchers at the Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1971, followed in 1980 by Usenet, which allowed people to post messages to online news feeds. The ...more...

Back to the past

After a couple of years of too much new (I work in IT) and not enough old, I'm determined to return to carving out more leisure time and spending more of that time doing history. The first step has been to make myself a space, which has been slowly taking shape in my previously dank and creepy basement. Tomorrow, I plan to hang lights and curtains, roll out a new rug, and set up my desk and chair. There's more to do to finish the space, but nothing that should prevent me from finally sitting down and searching out the past. While I'm creating a new environment for myself, I've also decided this website could stand to have some work done. Since I rarely find big chunks of time for working on my own stuff, I'll be doing this in bits and pieces. The "new" site will be fewer independent pages and more blog posts. It'll be easier to maintain, so I'm hoping I'll post more to it. In the meantime, please excuse any oddities and missing bits.

CNN – Coal River Mountain

Today, CNN.com posted a story about the impending destruction of Coal River Mountain. An excerpt and link to the full story are below:

RALIEGH COUNTY, West Virginia (CNN) -- Lorelei Scarboro loves to talk about the wild turkeys and bears living on West Virginia's Coal River Mountain. She watches them from the home her husband built when they were first married. But Scarboro is convinced it could all become a casualty of blasting that could begin on the mountaintop which is just 100 yards from the family cemetery where her husband is buried. "Everything I have here is at risk," said Scarboro whose father, grandfather and husband all worked as coal miners. About 470 mountain tops in Appalachia, including the one next to Coal River, have been destroyed. Mountaintop removal mining is faster and cheaper than underground mining but its impact on the environment is much worse. "I know there is a right way and a wrong way to mine coal and mountain top removal is the most destructive practice they can do," said Scarboro, now a member of the Coal River Mountain Watch. Mountaintop mining is legal and became more prevalent six years ago when federal laws were relaxed. During the mining process, miners blast ...more...