The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 5, 2013

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

(Continued)

LONDON — One of the jobs of the Count of Maurepas, a senior official in charge of the Paris police in the 1740s, was to monitor closely what was being said about King Louis XV in satirical rhymes, called libelles, which circulated in salons, cafes, markets and taverns. As they passed from person to person, whether orally or written on small scraps of paper, these ditties would be modified and reworked, with new verses added or names changed. Such poems could easily be updated in response to the news, a process of collective authorship that assimilated and encapsulated public opinion. Maurepas collected these poems through a network of informers, so that he could monitor public opinion on the king's behalf, tracking which courtiers were being satirized and collecting the latest rumors about the royal family. As with modern Internet censorship in China, the authorities would intervene if someone went too far.

On occasion, Maurepas and other courtiers would also write rhymes of their own to try to influence public opinion, letting them circulate at court and then filter out via salons and cafes to society at large. One such rhyme led to Maurepas' dismissal in 1749, when it became apparent that he was the author. It insulted the king's mistress, who was unpopular among his faction at court. Perhaps not unlike a certain former White House staffer, Maurepas had sought to exploit the media system to his own advantage, but instead brought about his own downfall. The power of the rhymes, however, remained intact: The relentless criticism of the libelles steadily corroded respect for the monarchy, undermined the king's authority, and paved the way for the French Revolution.

              

And then came the Dark Ages. Starting in the mid-19th century, everything changed. The advent of the steam-powered printing press, followed in the 20th century by radio and television, made possible what we now call mass media (and what conventional wisdom thinks of as traditional media). These new technologies of mass dissemination could supply information directly to large numbers of people with unprecedented speed and efficiency, but their high cost meant that control of the flow of information became concentrated into the hands of a select few. The delivery of information became a one-way, centralized broadcast, overshadowing the tradition of two-way, conversational and social distribution that had come before.

It is only in recent years that the Internet has made it possible to reach a large audience at low cost, allowing social distribution to re-emerge from the shadow of mass media. The rebirth of social media in the Internet age is thus both a profound shift - and a return, in many respects, to the way things used to be.

               

   

Text Only
Southeast Iowa
  • Report: Iowa third among states in child well-being DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A new national report on the well-being of children ranks Iowa third in the nation, up four places from last year. The Kids Counts report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says Iowa ranks first among all states

    July 22, 2014

  • MHP designated a Blue Zones Worksite OSKALOOSA — Blue Zones Project Oskaloosa today announced Mahaska Health Partnership has been named a designated Blue Zones Worksite. Mahaska Health Partnership was designated after completing the necessary items in the Blue Zones Project worksite ple

    July 22, 2014

  • 072214 Medics Skills Photo Local medics advance skills

    Six EMTs from Mercy Medical Center have completed the work necessary to become paramedics.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eddyville gets $1M federal grant for flood project EDDYVILLE, Iowa (AP) — The city of Eddyville is getting more than $1 million to improve its stormwater handling system to protect the city from Des Moines River flooding. The funding, announced Monday by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, comes from the Federa

    July 22, 2014

  • Art show photo 2 Young artists show work at Oskaloosa Art Center

    OSKALOOSA—Several pieces of art were on display at the Oskaloosa Art Center Friday featuring works by kids in local elementary schools. The artists include those from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Briana Bartlett, who teaches art for elementary

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Fundraiser for soldiers' families approaching

    CENTERVILLE — Justin Zaputil remembers when Master Sgt. Travis Riddick died. The common reactions didn’t feel right. Mourning and then moving on left something undone. It didn’t seem to accomplish what Zaputil and a handful of others wanted. It didn’

    July 21, 2014

  • 072114 Howard Service Photo 2 Hundreds attend Howard graveside services Several hundred men, women and children attended the 11 a.m. Saturday graveside services for Moulton native Staff Sgt. Robert E. “Bobby” Howard at Sunset View Cemetery north of Moulton.Pastor Brian Hargrave officiated. Hargrave talked about why we co

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Patrick Edouard Supreme Court overturns Edouard appeal

    The Iowa Supreme Court has overruled the state appeals court decision on whether a former Pella pastor could be convicted on charges of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blue Zones photo Blue Zones hold cooking demonstration at farmers' market

    OSKALOOSA — Two local chefs gave a cooking demonstration at the Oskaloosa Farmers’ Market Tuesday afternoon to show just what you can do with produce you buy there. Renee Edgar and Michael Glesener set up a portable kitchen on the east side of the cit

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suit: Nursing home not providing information KEOSAUQUA — Plaintiffs in a suit against an area nursing home have accused the defendants of dragging their heels in providing required information. The case involves the family of Mary Sprouse, who died after a fall at the Good Samaritan Society’s f

    July 17, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National