Tuesday, November 12, 2013


THIS blog, Facebook and Twitter are simply the latest versions of social platforms invented by the Romans, according to a new book.

Its author claims that the internet has enabled the way people communicate with groups to return to its natural social state, as used by the Romans some 2,000 years ago.

In particular, British journalist Tom Standage says that the way ancient graffiti was used to boast or complain about a variety of subjects was a key moment in the birth of social networking.

In his latest book, Standage says modern users of social networks are the "unwitting heirs of a rich tradition with surprisingly deep historical roots."

In WRITING ON THE WALL: SOCIAL MEDIA - THE FIRST 2,000 YEARS, the Economist magazine’s digital editor writes that it is as if the Romans and several historical figures including Thomas Paine and Martin Luther were on Facebook as they communicated in a similar style to the statuses users post today.

He justifies the idea by defining social media as "an environment in which information was passed from one person to another along social connections in order to create a distributed discussion among a community."

For centuries, people communicated in a similar, shared way before the arrival of mass media and the printing press began spreading news in a "one-way conversation," Standage told Washington Monthly.

He believes it was similar to what we experience today when using social media and the internet, which has enabled anyone to become a publisher.

In the book, he traces the rise of social media throughout history and compares Facebook to large walls in the Forum, in Rome, where residents wrote messages about hotel reviews, political opinions and even their sexual conquests.

This painting, entitled "Pompeii At The Walls," is by Stefan Bakalowicz (1857-1947) who studied in Warsaw and St. Petersburg, then went to Paris, Algiers and Rome, where he settled in 1882. He specialized in paintings of life of ancient Rome ... he clearly adored every aspect of Roman life ....

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