Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. Each generation thinks that it has discovered something for the first time. That is the perception of many about social media. But is social media really a new phenomenon?
While the technology underpinning Twitter, Facebook, and blogging are of our time, the things that people are doing with social media are not new at all. That’s the point that branding expert and author Jonathan Salem Baskin made during an American Marketing Association DC presentation a few weeks ago highlighting his new book,” Histories of Social Media.”
As Salem Baskin writes, “Crowdsourcing? Medieval villagers used it to trade treatments for the Black Death. Engagement? 19th century industrial unions used it to plan activism. Conversation? The Romans ran their government with it, and the French Terror used it to murder thousands. Debate? People have jousted and dueled for centuries. If you strip away the technology and presumptions, you open up a rich resource of case histories to better understand the immense opportunities for social media.”
Salem Baskin really makes you think and brings some new (or should I say) old perspectives to social media. Just ordered his book and it sounds like it will be a good read. Do you think looking at social media through the prism of history helps us better understand and exploit it as a means for connecting, transacting and communicating?