The Internet and Social Media in 1993

NPR’s Science Friday radio show recently rebroadcast a groundbreaking show from 1993 when it live-streamed the first ever radio show over the Internet with the help of scientists from Xerox PARC.   They actually slowed down traffic on the Internet because so many people tried to listen in.  This is a fascinating step back in time with host Ira Flatow, internet radio pioneer Carl Malamud and Brewster Kahle taking calls from listeners over the Internet.  What is particularly special is not just the excitement expressed by the presenters for the technical achievements of that day, but also the comments and creative ideas by those calling in about how they were using the internet, their concerns and what they would like to see happen in the future.  Discussions included:

– How to handle the glut of information coming over the internet, learning how to move through it and avoid ‘information anxiety’.

– How to determine which information is accurate – who can you trust?

– Copyrights and how do you reward a content creator?

– Gaming – Multi User Dungeons (MUDs) and the beginning of virtual worlds.

– The Internet as a ‘universal watercooler’ – a place you can convene electronically, chit chat and schmooze and how it levels the playing field between individuals.

– Creation of new communities, global villages, ‘media of the people’ and its impact upon society.

– The White House’s use of email and interest in opening up and communicating with people.

– One caller wishing he could have a ‘library of songs’, and describing how it would be great if record companies could let songs be downloaded then he could upload his credit card number.

All were extremely prescient comments yet it’s striking how 17 years on we’re still debating many of these issues.  As for Social Media – well, here is the foundation, it’s just that back then it didn’t have the tag.


About Janet

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