The Very First Social Network @slate @darpa #internet

DarpaNet IMP
Image via darpa.mil

Did you know it was a 1979 chain email about science fiction spawned the internet’s social networks we know today?

…[A]n email with the subject line “SF-LOVERS” had been sent to {DarpaNet creator Vint] Cerf and his colleagues scattered across the United States. The message asked all of them to respond with a list of their favorite science fiction authors. Because the message had gone out to the entire network, everybody’s answers could then be seen and responded to by everybody else. Users could also choose to send their replies to just one person or a subgroup, generating scores of smaller discussions that eventually fed back into the whole.

About 40 years later, Cerf still recalls this as the moment he realized that the internet would be something more than every other communications technology before it. “It was clear we had a social medium on our hands,” he said.

Read the whole story on Slate.


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1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately, that article needed a little more research – they missed the "Talkomatic" system that ran on Plato starting in 1973. There’s some info at

    http://just.thinkofit.com/plato-the-emergence-of-online-community/#talko

    It’s well worth reading "The Friendly Orange Glow", by Brian Dear – a lot of what we see now started on PLATO, conceptually at least.

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