Cicero's social media

30 Oct 2013

After the deadly review on 'Victorian Internet' (the telegraph!), Tom Standage goes ahead with his precious reshaping work of digital myths. This time he focuses on social media, those we evaluate as new and extremely original and that he declares being at least 2000 years ancient. The idea is simple and trenchant: communication has always been horizontal, among peers, as it is today with social media and as it was in Cicero's time, who didn't get informed reading fictional newspapers but building a dense net of acquaintances with whom he used to entertain a thick letters exchange, or in Tudor's time, when was established the custom of exchanging news and gossips through short poetic works. According to Standage the true anomaly lies in vertical communication, the top-down one, from few to many, typical of industrial society (newspapers, radio, TV): the so celebrated 'mass communication' was only a short and ungraceful aberration that post-industrial society with its horizontal medias is now taking steps to correct. Everything true, Mr. Standage, with a tiny observation: while Cicero's and Tudors' horizontal communication system was limited to an extremely narrow élite of cultivated people, the contemporary social media one is in hand of extended multitudes. Not an insignificant difference.