“Facebook” in the 16th Century

Illustration of Italian printer Aldus Manutius (c1449 – 1515) showing pages from his printing press in 1502 [from the Huffington Post article]

According to recent research, the modern world’s penchant for social networking may not be exclusive to this century alone. Studies into the communication habits of 16th and 17th century Italian Academies, where scholars created their own nicknames, as well as emblems and mottos to signify those with shared interests and ideals, suggest such ‘informtion exchanges’ were not far removed from the objectives of today’s social networks.

In an article reporting on the research, from the internet newspaper, The Huffington Post (“Social Networking Concept May Have Emerged During Renaissance, Researchers Say”, Jun 28, 2012), by Tara Kelly, Renaissance specialists from the British Library, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Reading University had ‘discovered’ the network whilst cataloging and researching for “The Italian Academies 1525–1700: The first intellectual networks of early modern Europe”.

Professor Jane Everson, the Principal-investigator from the joint study, noted that, “Just as we create user names for our profiles on Facebook and Twitter and create circles of friends on Google plus, these scholars created nicknames, shared – and commented on – topical ideas, the news of the day, and exchanged poems, plays and music…” and,  “It may have taken a little longer for this to be shared without the Internet, but through the creation of yearbooks and volumes of letters and speeches, they shared the information of the day.”

The Italian Academies, of which there were around 500, comprised male and female members from all strata of society, and included scientists, writers, artists, and political thinkers.

Their debates and dialogue covered a wide-spectrum of disciplines that included language and literature, the arts, science, technology, medicine and astronomy.

About vicTor K

An Officer . . with the thoUght "curiOsity kiLLs the cAt, but giVes liFe to mAn as it triGgers him to thinK and be creAtiVe . N is a wAy to leaRn" . . taKe much priDe in worK with the noTion : "Google can bring back a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one." - Neil Gaiman
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