Social networks from the Enlightenment

April 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

Long before Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, there was the Republic of Letters —  a self-proclaimed intellectual community of writers, scholars and other thinkers in the late 17th and 18th century in Europe and America, that managed to cross national boundaries and bring together, among others, the philosophers of the Enlightenment.Republic of letters

This vast community of intellectuals and philosophers, which included literary figures such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Carl Linnaeus, Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, and Denis Diderot, was the subject of a project by a team of students and professors from Stanford University. They used geographical imaging to display how this early social network and its various sub-networks intermingled and evolved over time. The Republic of Letters is perhaps an early example of what social network truly means- exchange knowledge and information.

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