Facebook. Over 250 years old.

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If you go by Bibliodyssey‘s account of Stammbücher [Friend's Book] from the 1750s, Mark Zuckerberg may have not seen the last of the folks in line to sue Facebook for appropriation of the ‘original’ idea:

Stammbücher appear for the first time in the 16th and 17th centuries in the German- and Dutch-speaking areas of Europe, where it had become fashionable among graduating university students to have one’s personal bible signed by classmates and instructors. Soon inscriptions went beyond simple signatures to include reminiscences of common experiences, good wishes for the future, or a favorite passage from literature or poetry. Publishers foreseeing a lucrative market printed bibles with empty pages and soon also turned out small decorated books with only empty pages.

Eventually these albums were not only passed around at graduation but accompanied a student throughout his life, gathering entries from relatives, friends, and important acquaintances. Others also took up the custom, especially those who traveled as part of their training or social upbringing, such as aristocrats, tradesmen, military officers, poets, or musicians…

One thought on “Facebook. Over 250 years old.

  1. One certainly does not have to go back that far to find similar practices. During the 70′s, it was traditional (at least for Chicago 8th graders) to purchase a “graduation book” along with all the other graduation accoutrements. The book was about 6″ X 6″, black or white leather, with your name embossed in gold lettering. It was full of blank pages on which your classmates would write their farewell messages (high schoolers would do this in their yearbooks). We even had a year-end party, the primary purpose of which was to allow everyone to pass their books around to be signed – a “social networking” party, as it were. The only difference was that there was no way to keep up with these folks for any period of time, as phone numbers and addresses would invariably change, and there were no electronic means of contact.

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