Download audio (MP3)
Connectivity isn't a 21st Century phenomenon. Bonnie Thomas looks at networking in Revolutionary America.
By Bonnie Thomas
While social media brands like Foursquare and Friendster may come and go, make no mistake: social media is here to stay. Not because of our love for technology, but because of our love for networking.
America has, in fact, been deeply networked since Day One. Even when really powerless under British law, Americans consistently, methodically organized in groups to discuss "the concerns of the day", to network.
Since the first Representative Assembly in 1619 Jamestown to the first Committee of Safety in 1774 Massachusetts, America grew in tight networks: here, there and everywhere they sprouted. And without the Internet! Can we imagine how much letter writing -- in long hand -- it would have taken to keep those networks alive? Yet, thrive, they did.
News of the Boston Tea Party was common knowledge in each of the 13 colonies within days. When the British finally did arrive, Paul Revere didn't really ride about shouting, "The British are coming!" He quickly passed word through his network, which did the same - passed word through their networks. Within hours, 40-plus riders were scattered across Middlesex County with news of the British invasion. And the rest, as they say, is history.
And it's a history of the constant demand to shorten the time and space between all of us. Railraods, telegraphs, the Pony Express, highways, the telephone, cable TV, the Internet, the cell phone, social media -- we have only ever demonstrated an insatiable appetitie for more and more connection.
So here we are. A centuries-long quest has ended. Now, almost every one of us has real-time access to any other person on the planet. So while we might get bored with the device, the website or the channel that gives us that access, the hunger for that access, to my eye, ain't going nowhere.
With a Perspective, I'm Bonnie Thomas.
Bonnie Thomas is a content strategist in social networking for an East Bay company that builds brand advocacy.