Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Stubborn Persistence of BBS

I was holding this post back but when I heard Loren Feldman of 1938 Media call Twitter a BBS, I had to post it right away because I thought, "Hey! I thought of that too!"

When a computer protocol was written by Ward Christensen so that one could dial up a Bulletin Board System in 1977, the early precursor of the World Wide Web was born and the sharing of information freely through networked computers residing in the homes and offices of “some other” people became possible.

The World Wide Web really started at CERN (No Al Gore joke here), European research Lab. Tim Berners-Lee set up the first web server. From the CERN website: “The idea was to connect hypertext with the Internet and personal computers, thereby having a single information network to help CERN physicists share all the computer-stored information at the laboratory.” The ability to find, browse, search and create information that can be viewed by anyone with a computer and an Internet connection came to be.

Connecting to others, having conversations and exploring beyond your own physical borders must be ingrained in our collective DNA. We need to share information with other people who may or may not be like-minded. In Twitter we have found yet another way to accomplish this.

Twitter has managed to blend many of the greatest aspects of the Internet as it has evolved and put them into one succinctly designed application that, 1) Connects us to others outside of our physical community and B) Allows us to share information with those people that we find.

So with all this history an over 30 years of innovation what is the best thing we came up with? Twitter. That’s right. We have finally developed a way for people to log in and talk to other people over long distances in 140 characters or less. What does that say about us as a culture?

The Internet started as a means of transmitting scientific and academic information, with the real stress on information. When you look at the evolution of the World Wide Web (I still love calling it that!) it’s all been just a refinement of achieving that objective.

Everything else is just exploding soda bottles and LOLcats.

Lon S. Cohen

1 comment:

Peter said...

Let's not forget about IRC and local chat rooms. And I don't know if I have even remotely enough intel to say this with certainty, but the crowd on twitter is the 30s something crowd that was around back in the BBS days. My teens and twenty year old nieces and nephews don't go near it.

Fascinating indeed! Great post.