(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...