Monday, April 27, 2015

Newspapers: The original social media platform

Have you heard of TED talks? I want to do one. There’s an online application and as soon as I come up with enough words for an 18-minute speech I’m going to apply. A TED talk is cut off at 18 minutes. I’m not sure why, but attention span probably has a lot to do with it. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and there are conferences held around the country where people speak on a particular topic. So, I’m auditioning here today. The following is the beginning of my talk. Newspapers were the first social media platform. Sure, cave drawings were probably first, but you had to be invited into the cave to see the etchings. Then there were hieroglyphics, but again, if you weren’t standing in the pyramid, you didn’t know what you were missing. The Romans, of course, were the first to publish a public document, Acta Diurna, which were public notices etched into stone and put in the town square for people to see. A more advanced version of the cave drawings to say the least. The publications would sometimes be copied and sent out to the outlying regions of the empire and be shared with the people there; a very heavy social media platform, but social media nonetheless as the notices soon evolved to include birth announcements, marriages and deaths. The first Acta is believed to be dated to 131 BC. Years before, Egyptian hieroglyphics were used as a form of communication. Hieroglyphics date back to nearly 4,000 BC, but most people couldn’t read them, so I’m not sure we’re able to qualify them as a social media platform. In my latest rant, I talk about the evolution of the forerunners for social media as we know it today, from the cave dwellers above to the brave souls who founded this country. After the revolution newspapers spread like wildfire, sharing stories of triumphs and tribulations of individuals for the first time, unfettered. Sharing is the staple of social media, and sharing true news, written by trained journalists is a form of sharing our Republic cannot survive without, and yet newspapers being threatened by the very movement they started hundreds of years ago.

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