The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Business & Technology

November 7, 2013

5 historical pioneers of social media: Martin Luther invented the listicle

LONDON — Before PSY blew up YouTube, before @Horse_ebooks became a Twitter superstar, even before the world discovered LOLcats, there was the apostle Paul - early Christian missionary, eventual saint and, it turns out, a pioneer of viral media.

Today, we think of social media as a uniquely modern, uniquely digital phenomenon, one that only took off in the last decade - really in just the last five years. In fact, today's bloggers and tweeters are heirs to a surprisingly deep and rich tradition that began with the Romans 2,000 years ago, helped cause the split within the Catholic Church, aided the U.S. fight for independence, and prepared the way for the French Revolution.

Put down the iPad, my children, and gather round. Here are five historical pioneers of social media - figures who went viral long before the Internet.

1. The Apostle Paul

Paul of Tarsus was the most adroit user of the Roman social-media system, harnessing it to amass followers and bind together the scattered communities of the early Christian church, and promote his ideas on how the church should develop. Written on papyrus rolls in the 1st century AD, his open letters - or epistles, as we now know them in their New Testament form - were addressed to specific churches (the Book of Romans is a letter to the church in Rome, for example, and Corinthians is a letter to the church in Corinth) but were clearly intended for wider distribution, like a Tumblr post sent out into the world to be blogged and reblogged. Initially, church leaders would read them out to the members of their congregation. But Paul also expected recipient churches to copy and share his letters with other churches nearby. As he wrote in his letter to the Colossians: "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." Copies of the letters rippled across Paul's network of churches, so that they each ended up with a complete collection. Readings from Paul's letters became a part of Christian worship, and they eventually came to be seen as scripture by the early church, whose leaders incorporated them into the New Testament.

In its early years, Christianity consisted of rival movements whose members disagreed over the meaning of Christ's teachings and his intended audience for them. Paul used social media to ensure that his view prevailed, cementing the establishment of the Christian church as a religion open to all, not just to Jews. Such is his influence that his letters are still read out in churches all over the world today - a striking testament to the power of social distribution.

               

2. Martin Luther

Text Only
Business & Technology
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 19, 2014

  • Minnick New director at Ashford CLINTON -- Ashford University has appointed a new vice president/campus director of its Clinton campus. Charlie Minnick has been appointed for the position. He has been in the position on an interim basis since Jan. 1. Ashford University Provost Lori

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • McEleney McEleney elected to insurance board CLINTON -- A car dealership owner recently earned a spot on a national insurance board. John McEleney, of Clinton and owner of McEleney Motors, was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federated Insurance Companies. The election took place this w

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

    April 18, 2014

  • Local farmers honored DES MOINES -- Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that Marty and Michael Burken who run Blue Hyll Dairy in rural Clinton County have been named the April winners of the "Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award." Northey will present

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-19-14 FBLA photo CHS Future Business Leaders of America attend conference Thirty members of the Clinton High School Future Business Leaders of America attended their spring leadership conference at the Marriott Coralville from March 26-29. Students attending the conference competed against other Iowa students in state and

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. stock market rebounds after choppy day A stock market swoon turned into a comeback Tuesday. Stocks managed a late-afternoon rebound for the second time in two days as investors seemed to brush off a report of lower confidence among homebuilders and simmering tensions in the Ukraine. The l

    April 16, 2014

  • Document shredding offered CLINTON -- A Clinton bank will provide document shredding this weekend. The free service will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Citizens First Bank's office at 1442 Lincoln Way. This is the 10th year the bank has offered this service, Citizens Fi

    April 15, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

Facebook