The (Brief) History of Social Media


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This is the first lecture for my Intro to Social Media class at Loyola Marymount University. It provides a look back at the concepts that inspired today's social media phenomenon, as well as how these concepts evolved over the past 2000 years.

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The (Brief) History of Social Media

  1. 1. The (Brief) History of Social MediaJanuary 22, 2013
  2. 2. Origins: Ancient Greece• Original concepts of social media dateback to the famous philosophers ofAncient Greece• Rhetoric – the art of persuasion (oneto many)• Dialectic – involves arriving at aconclusion via a conversation &exchange of ideas/viewpoints(participation from both sides)
  3. 3. “One to Many” Concept• Catholic church popularized the“one to many” concept: theword of God must becommunicated and interpretedonly through the church– Council of Nicaea decided whatbooks would be included in theBible and how the Word would becommunicated to man• Education/information reservedfor the clergy or the wealthy –the masses were largelyuneducated
  4. 4. 500 AD – 1900s• “One to Many” idea carriedthrough for hundreds of years– Came up for debate during EnglishReformation, King Henry VIII’s rule• Martin Luther argued that the Biblecould be read and interpreted by man– not just the church– Rise of Communism, dictatorships,state-controlled media• Information came from one source;government ruled by oneperson/group
  5. 5. Technology: The Great Equalizer• 20th Century: As technologyevolved, access to informationgrew• Computers and the Internetdeconstructed the “one tomany” precedent; created the“many to many” paradigm• Anyone now has access toinformation that was oncereserved for governments,universities, clergy or thewealthy
  6. 6. Key Milestones• First computer built: 1946• First networked computers: 1968• First home computer sold: 1977• First online chat room: 1980• Birth date of World Wide Web:August 6, 1991• First Internet Service Provider(ISP): 1994
  7. 7. History of Social Media: 1989 - 2010
  8. 8. 1980s – 1990s• Compuserve and Prodigy first large scaleattempts to bring an interactive, “social”online experience to the masses– High cost ($30/hour!) and low speeds(dial-up)• Internet Relay Chat (today’s IM) createdin August 1988– Used during the first Gulf War– AOL launches AIM in 1996• P2P (peer to peer) sharing launches in1999 with Napster; marked an radicalshift of distribution power from recordcompanies to the consumer
  9. 9. 2000s• Most significant development:broadband speeds rise & cost ofcomputers decreases– By the end of 2000, more than 360million had access to the Internet(now: more than 2 billion)• “Dot Com Bust” in 2001 refinedInternet business models; created amore realistic view of the Web– We learned what to build and how tomake money (advertising vs.subscriptions)
  10. 10. Web 2.0• The biggest evolution of the Web in the mid-2000s• Web applications that facilitate interactive informationsharing, interoperability, and collaboration on the Internet• Marks the rise of user-generated content anddemocratization of information• Power shifting to the people or “the many”
  11. 11. Rise of Social Networks• Using the Internet to make and organize personal& business connections• The creation of the “social graph” – a person’ssphere of influence and connections• OpenID – a single sign-on for third-party websites(Facebook Connect, Twitter OAuth, MySpaceID)2002 2004 2005 2007
  12. 12. Real-Time & Location-Based• From static pages to real-time streams of updates• Smartphones enable mass adoption of location-based services (“checking in” @ Starbucks)– More on this in upcoming Privacy lecture• GrouponNow offers instant deals by location201120092006
  13. 13. Visual and Aspirational• Evolution from utility to aesthetic – further upMaslow’s Hierarchy• Shift from need to want; functional to delightful• Information as pictures; visualization of data201020082007
  14. 14. The Social Media Revolution