back to article Zucker for history: What I learnt about Facebook 600 years ago

Sudden infant wails finally brightened the delivery room late that night, a relief to everyone, not least the mother. After a quick wipe-down and weigh, the baby was swaddled and handed back to the parents to be comforted. I leant across the bed towards the crying baby, put on my best Yorkshire accent and whispered into her …

  1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Good article

    That's it.

    Dabbs notes in passing that the printing press facilitated the rise of Protestantism. Up to the reader to decide whether that's a positive or negative.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Good article

      facilitated the rise of Protestantism

      In it's original sense of "Protest" against the establishment, that is. I wouldn't try to draw any modern religious conclusions from that.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Good article

        In it's original sense of "Protest" against the establishment, that is. I wouldn't try to draw any modern religious conclusions from that.

        Modern form tends to come in two forms, the puritan evangelical brand and the mostly relapsed live and let live form.

        The Evangelicals still protest, mainly at anything that might be fun for anyone else.

    2. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Good article

      Well it did in Europe. English Protestantism started because Henry VIII wanted to get he leg over Anne Boleyn.

      1. John Lilburne Silver badge

        Re: Good article

        "English Protestantism started because Henry VIII wanted to get he leg over Anne Boleyn."

        Oh it started long before that with the Lollards, and we now know that H8 could have got his leg over Boleyn if he'd sent the Vatican a couple of cart loads of choirboys.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Good article

        Well it did in Europe. English Protestantism started because Henry VIII wanted to get he leg over Anne Boleyn.

        That was just Englands version of Emperor Constantine - when it became politically expedient to embrace the new religion rather than continue prosecuting/persecuting it.

        1. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Good article

          Sort of but not really.

          It was literally because he wanted the power to grant divorces *himself* as opposed to having to ask the church nicely.

          So, as was said, because he wanted to get his end away.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Good article

            So, as was said, because he wanted to get his end away.

            Nah. Henry was well aware of the distinction between sex and marriage, he didn't need to divorce or marry anyone to get his end away.

            What he really wanted was a legitimate male heir, with the emphasis on "legitimate". (And hence, indirectly, also "male", since a female would always be of slightly suspect legitimacy - c.f. Mary and Elizabeth.)

            It's easy to see people as motivated solely by selfishness and hedonism, but often there are excellent political reasons behind these stories. Henry VIII is one such.

            1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              Re: Good article

              A "Daughter of Time" type question. History school books tell us that Henry VIII wanted a legitimate son and heir. But it's occurred to me, why? The heir would step up when Henry died, so Henry could have said "Not my problem, someone else can sort it out when it happens."

              So... perhaps the male heir means that a hypothetical someone else who would consider assassinating Henry in order to be king, would not, because someone else was in the way too. Is that it?

      3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Good article

        "Well it did in Europe. English Protestantism started because Henry VIII wanted to get he leg over Anne Boleyn."

        It didn't actually; Henry VIII considered himself a Catholic and continued to call himself "Fidei defensor". In his view it was the Pope who was wrong.

        The real split from Rome came later.

    3. Walter Bishop Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Good article

      @Voyna i Mor: "Dabbs notes in passing that the printing press facilitated the rise of Protestantism. Up to the reader to decide whether that's a positive or negative."

      The rot set in when the Romans suppressed the Druidic religion and replaced it with a reconstructed Hebrew death cult. The druids did actually sacrifice real people and not a symbolic representation in the form of a stale wafer.

  2. Chazmon
    Coffee/keyboard

    'Take a ride in his Mercedes'

    You owe me a new keyboard

    Having read the work recently this phrase goes some distance towards explaining the hundreds of pages of elaborate revenge which this lead to. For a more recent and easier to read work which uses this hacking principle (and others) check out Pratchett's 'Going Postal'.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Damn, you beat me too it, I was going to say it was used by pTerry in GP as well.

      The way Moist inserts his "accusation from the ghosts" onto the clacks from Reacher Gilt is very similar.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        The Clacks

        I was amazed how few people I know knew that PTerry got the idea of the Clacks from real life and merged it with early UNIX stuff. But I did write a history of communications in the mid 1980s.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      I really can’t help but think that Dumas would have enjoyed Sir P’Terry enormously. Nightwatch in particular would have had him in stitches.

    3. PPK
      Thumb Up

      GNU

      http://www.gnuterrypratchett.com/

      He'll always be out there...

  3. amolbk

    Culture & Empire

    Reminded me of Culture & Empire by Pieter Hintjens.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Attributed to Socrates, circa 400 bc

    The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

    Rings any bells?

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Attributed to Socrates, circa 400 bc

      Attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC:

      Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Attributed to Socrates, circa 400 bc

      No, it's apparently a quote from a grouchy older character in a play, not something that Socrates actually said so 'attributed to' in the generally accepted sense is not correct.

      In the same way that while Shakespeare wrote 'methinks the lady doth protest too much', he didn't actually say it and you wouldn't say 'attributed to'.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge

    Marshall McLuhan?

    The medium is the massage?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Marshall McLuhan?

      .. casual viewing, head buried in the sand?

      (I'm sure there must be at least one other commentard can identify where that line comes from..)

      1. Hugh Pumphrey

        Re: Marshall McLuhan?

        ... There's Howard Hughes in blue suede shoes

        smiling at the majorettes smoking Winston cigarettes ...

        (The Lamb lies down on Broadway, of course, about halfway through side 1)

  6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    The cumulative effect of the official telegraph (which no one trusts) plus throwaway gossip (which everyone believes) is utterly convincing.

    Wish that was the case. We now diligently believe the official telegraph. Or should we call it the Torygraph? The abridged version called "Daily Beobachter" - for sure (*).

    (*)Not invoking Godwin's law 2.0. Nope. Tempted but nope. I am sure, someone else will.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      I don't!

      Although 15+ years ago, the Torygraph's website was a model for news papers (still somewhat biased but that could be corrected for) - how the mighty have tumbled, even if the Barclay brothers maintain their disgusting habits - not far to fall in their case.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      We now diligently believe the official telegraph. Or should we call it the Torygraph?

      It's easier to pretend otherwise but people tend not to believe everything they read, even in their favourite newspapers. They choose what they want to believe. Sun readers laugh at the silly stories in that paper but don't necessarily believe them all to be true.

      You may remember when the Daily Mail ran a spread about the Marxist historian father of (then) Labour Party leader Ed Miliband with the headline "The man who hated Britain". It turned out that dedicated right-wing DM readers didn't agree with the story or approve of its logic, and they wrote in droves to the paper to object. No apology was given but the disgruntled editor was forced to back down and his plans to use story as a platform for continued character assassination of the Miliband clan simply evaporated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "It turned out that dedicated right-wing DM readers didn't agree with the story or approve of its logic, and they wrote in droves to the paper to object."

        With the Mail readership it is not wise to question the patriotism of anyone who has served in the Armed Forces.

        The funny thing is that my father was in the RN during and after WW2, and the wardroom of his last ship was indeed a hotbed of Marxism. At least one of his fellow officers was subsequently spied on by MI5. They all led blameless careers. And at well over 90, my father is still a bit Marxist.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        You may remember when the Daily Mail ran a spread about the Marxist historian father of (then) Labour Party leader Ed Miliband with the headline "The man who hated Britain

        I do. I also remember this spread (though I saw it abroad at the time): https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/6/26/1372251040906/phpLy4tFuAM.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=368d2e23441e684d51d9e1c4484af6c6

        It is a common scenario when:

        1. The powers that be "bend the truth a little bit". A bit of doctoring evidence here. A bit of erasing evidence there.

        2. The newspapers vehemently support it.

        The majority believes it. Sometimes for years. It takes people decades (and sometimes NEVER) to clear their names and the names of their loved ones.

        Sure, it is usually not all of them, but the mainline ones definitely do participate in this. Some of them with glee. The Daily Pravda is a good example of that. So is Sun and friends.

        It is by no means specific to Britain by the way. Happens everywhere. However, people coming from places which have broken away from a history of that generally presume ANY power that be to be lying. Anywhere we go. My standard assumption is that a government is lying. Any one. Of Any country. I believe the opposite only after evidence has been presented.

  7. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    for the Dumas reference ----------------------->

    although I might have hoped that such an erudite soul as Alistair might have mentioned Walsingham (Elizabethan spymaster) amongst others :-)

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Walsingham (Elizabethan spymaster)

      The original boss of the original Police State. Read all the mail and cracked all the codes. mary lost her head of over that and some people also died mysteriously. Shakespeare was careful about Tudor related history and King stuff. A bit before Churchill decided to tap all the telegraph cables just before WWI. Churchill created forerunner of WWII Bletchley & later GCHQ.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    So about that printing press

    You still had to pay the printer to get published, he didn't offer to print it for free if you told him all about yourself, then later on you'd find out he'd sold all the juicy details on to other people while swearing to you that your secrets were safe with him if you ask him to keep them private.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: So about that printing press

      "You still had to pay the printer to get published"

      Not quite true. If a printer happened to get hold of an interesting MS and decided to make some money from a print run, the author would get paid exactly as much as Zuckerberg pays contributors.

  9. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    New addition to the Dabbsy household?

    Congrats!

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      25 years ago.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Joke

        @Dabbsy:

        Oh good, so its almost out of the nest then?

        1. Zimmer

          Probably on it's way back to the nest..!!

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Probably on it's way back to the nest..!!

            may be she's still got that crap powerbank he gave her as a Christmas present...

            "There it was, still in its box, unopened and still cradled in Christmas wrapping paper: the crap powerbank I'd give her."

            https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/03/those_it_gadget_freebies_youve_been_collecting_they_make_awful_christmas_presents/

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        ""25 years ago"

        No wonder you look so old in your photo! It explains the hair :-p

      3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Cigars?

        25 years ago.

        Just as well - otherwise I was going ask how you are going to distribute cigars to the commentards

  10. Potemkine! Silver badge

    It was better before!

    "Every generation always thinks it was better before, and I think people have been saying this for probably thousands of years."

    I see a difference between the Berg's. Gutenberg invented the medium but did not use the data for his own profit, when Zuckerberg did all the opposite.

    one of the men who had him unjustly imprisoned before he had an opportunity to take a ride in his Mercedes.

    What a brilliant pun. I'm amazed of the deep knowledge of French culture Mr. Dabbs has.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: It was better before!

      I'm amazed of the deep knowledge of French culture Mr. Dabbs has.

      He always knew that hanging on to those French letters would serve him well.

  11. Dabooka Silver badge

    Really enjoyed that one Dabbsy

    Although I'm of the age now where I'm simultaneously considered too young by many I work with and too old by others, I despair at the attitudes of both camps to each other. Being in the sweet spot does afford me the benefit of seeing things all ways though, so not all bad

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: sweet spot

      Please tell me that's 50s...

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: sweet spot

        "Please tell me that's 50s..."

        Well, they say that 50 is the new 30, so technically no.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Really enjoyed that one Dabbsy

      Indeed you are in the middle of the age wars: "Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance." Give yourself a few more years to learn the craft and kids won't stand a chance.

  12. Steve Button

    Perhaps I should read something else?

    As I found myself agreeing with you most of the way through.

    Isn't that confirmation bias?

    I might try the Daily Mail, to get a more balanced view. ;-P

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps I should read something else?

      Hopefully , if society gets a grip on this whole new fake news / data mining / information culture / age of communication / brainwashing / hate spreading / election biasing / internet thing ......

      The Daily Mail will be the first against the wall.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Perhaps I should read something else?

        Getting a grip on the fake news thing means both sides use it equally and ban education because neither side wants anyone capable of critical thinking.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Perhaps I should read something else?

          @Floke:

          They don't want to *ban* education. They just want to ban *logical reasoning*, since that is what takes basic education to the level at which folks can *develop* critical thinking.

      2. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Perhaps I should read something else?

        @Prst. V.Jeltz:

        The Daily Mail lawyers will be the first against the wall.

        Sorry, *had* to fix that for you.....

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps I should read something else?

      "I might try the Daily Mail, to get a more balanced view"

      You do.

      One week they tell you doctors say you need to do so-and-so to avoid cancer. The next week they tell you that doctors are lying to you.

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Perhaps I should read something else?

      When Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, was on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, his choice of "one luxury" was a subscription to The Guardian.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps I should read something else?

      Isn't that confirmation bias?

      I might try the Daily Mail, to get a more balanced view

      It's the first time I've seen the phrase "Daily Mail" and "balanced view" used in the same sentence without some sort of negative..

      (And anyway - wouldn't the cure be worse than the disease? A bit like cutting off your fingers because one of them has a bit of psoriasis.)

  13. Dr_N Silver badge

    Mail/Express Axis of Evil

    Have the Dabbs folks switched back to the Daily Express and its associated CRAZY capitals headline website now that it is clearly more DERANGED than the 'Mail... ?

    1. MrT

      Re: Mail/Express Axis of Evil

      My dad used to get the Express because it had good sports reporting (he'd read it from the back first).

      Then it got bought by a self-interested pornographer, merged with the Daily Star (a paper that used to give me a headache just from the look of the font), developed the aforementioned headline style, became a parody of a proper newspaper, before being recently sold to the Mirror Group after 17yrs of drudge.

      Headlines in the Desmond years tended to run on a repeated loop that included weather-related calamity, and how one simple tablet, probably a vitamin, could prevent memory loss and dementia. The irony of repeating that story every 4-6 weeks was almost certainly lost on the readership.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Mail/Express Axis of Evil

        I identify newspapers according to their cartoons. So for me as a child, The Daily Express was The Gambols. And Matt would be enough reason for me to buy the Telegraph. A newspaper without a cartoon isn't really a newspaper.

        1. MrT

          Re: Mail/Express Axis of Evil

          Definitely - although the Gambols were pushing it trying to make the Austin Allegro look cool, or to oddly claim a hand in the front-end styling. Still, there was always Rupert the Bear...

          The Express did syndicate Calvin and Hobbes in the 80's, so something for the 70's/80's kids as well.

      2. diver_dave

        Re: Mail/Express Axis of Evil

        Sorry to correct but....

        You forgot the obligatory Monday morning Princess Di headline...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old versus Young, one race versus another, one class versus another and so on.

    All through history the key to subverting the masses is to get them to fight with each other or blame the others for the ills of society.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      And we never learn.

  15. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Fake news, lies and bollocks

    I doubt that has changed much over time. What has perhaps changed is more people seem to believe falsehood as truth and vice-versa. Though maybe it is just that people are more able and likely to come together to collectively believe such things, are more visible when doing so.

    In the Good Old Days we read our papers and muttered, watched TV and shouted it at, bimbled down to Trafalgar Square, waved our placards, then went home. Most times no one else noticed.

    These days we are more likely to see and hear what others think, can more easily engage with those collectives, become part of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake news, lies and bollocks

      IIRC according to William Shakespeare - Brutus committed suicide on news that the battle was lost. Too late the messenger arrived to announce a victory.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Fake news, lies and bollocks

        according to William Shakespeare

        Shakespeares view on history is somewhat akin to that used in Hollywood - never mind the facts!

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Shakespeares view on history

          ... was very coloured by what Elisabeth I and Walsingham might think. Some playwrights were not so careful.

          1. John Crisp

            Re: Shakespeares view on history

            And was theatre to entertain the masses and transport them away from tbe drudgery of life for a little while.

            Much as theatre and films do today.

            OT.

            Most boring play of all time (did stage lighting for a fairly serious amateur group for this)

            "Much ado about nothing"

            When you've run out of good ideas and need some cash in a hurry....

            Clue is in tbe title.

            1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

              Re: Shakespeares view on history

              "Anthony and Cleopatra is not a comedy. If Shakespeare would have meant it to be funny, he would have put a joke in it."

              1. TWB

                Re: "Anthony and Cleopatra is not a comedy..."

                Thanks fo that - I wish my memory for proper useful stuff which would help in everyday life (e.g. work) was as good as that for comedy sketches and song lyrics which are just 'nice to have'

    2. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: Fake news, lies and bollocks

      Hmm:

      These days we are more likely to see and hear what others think, can more easily engage with those collectives, become part of them.

      I think that reads more accurately as:

      These days we are more likely to see and hear what others think, can more easily disparage those collectives, and mock them.

  16. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Trollface

    Standard comment

    The problem is that while standards enhance reliability and long-term development, they represent a standing target for serial disruptors.

    It's the wonderful thing about standards, there are usually so many to chose from for any given topic...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Rich people have always dodged their taxes, "

    The rich have the facilities to make it look legal. Historically most of the population didn't see why they should feather the beds of the ruling elite for little apparent return. Nowadays it is those who control their own cash flow who can cook their books.

    It is expected that governments will push for a cashless society so that all financial exchanges can be tracked. That will still tend to miss barter - and creative accounting allowed by convoluted tax laws.

    Nowadays there is still an educational gap between people wanting public services - and yet not wanting to put enough into the public pot to provide them. The ruling snouts in the trough don't help to dispel that attitude - some demagogues actively encourage it as a means of seeking selfish future benefits for themselves.

  18. JLV Silver badge

    well spoken

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, the lazy and flighty millennials of Parkland, Florida have been doing a rather better job of holding politicians to account than my generation.

    Facebook may be flawed in many ways, but something like was bound to happen. Human nature will gradually have to adapt to a world where nothing is really ever forgotten and much "news" is fabricated gossip. That's the coming generations' burden, but there is little hard indication that previous generations would have been all that much better at it, cf various actual lynching episodes.

    We might yet go all Kardashian and Idiocracy but little of this is Millenial-specific.

    1. Trilkhai

      Re: well spoken

      millennials…have been doing a rather better job of holding politicians to account than my generation.

      From what I've been able to tell, what has actually changed is that Boomers & Xers are a lot more likely to care what young people think (and try to change things to suit them) than the Silent Generation & Greatest Generation were. Our experience at their age was a lot more like the way the tech community has been treated by the people in charge when it tried to save Net Neutrality, create municipal broadband fiber networks, fix/eliminate the DMCA, or many other things. (Well, except for worse: if we'd refused to read books for school that made us uncomfortable or pulled other stunts they do, we would've not only not gotten our way, we would've been in big trouble.)

  19. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

    Ta for that. I've been reading quotes and mis-quotes and parodies of it (and done them myself) for years and yet haven't watched it through for many years. It still makes me laugh out loud. I really ought to put a link to it into an annually recurring calendar entry :)

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

      And I linked to the original pre-Python version of the sketch, co-written by Tim Brooke-Taylor (who almost joined Monty Python but decided he couldn't write enough, quickly enough).

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

        "the original pre-Python version"

        Yes, Alistair, the proper one :-)

    2. Esme

      Re: The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

      @John Brown (no body) a web link? In an ee-lectronic calendar? Hellfire, tha's lucky! When I were a lass we had nowt but a slab of granite and a flint to inscribe notable dates onto it with!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

        "When I were a lass we had nowt but a slab of granite and a flint to inscribe notable dates onto it with!"

        Luxury!

  20. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Technology as the Promoter of Gibberish.

    It took skill and effort to produce a 15th Century book unlike a Zuckerberg creating Facebook.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Technology as the Promoter of Gibberish.

      You win a million irony points.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apparently, older peoples view of younger people is just because older people don't like change and younger people are generally more egocentric.

    Anyway, here's s a talk by Adam Conover (of Adam Ruins Everything) who was asked to talk about Millenials. He explained why there's really no such thing:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HFwok9SlQQ

  22. Tommoxyz

    Excellent!

  23. Benjamin701

    And has the worldAnd has the world changed? changed?

    I like your reasoning. I also think that long before the advent of the Internet and Facebook, people littered their head with the news that they were inspired by their politicians or someone else. I recently came across a picture, in the first half, passengers of a regular metro were photographed, most of them looked at their smartphones, and in the second picture there was a picture of 1940, just in the subway car, only most people were reading a newspaper. And what essentially changed? :) As for me, the world does not change much, the forms of representation of the same things change, the same media just change a little. In an article on https://greatpaper.co.uk/ I read an excellent essay written by my grandmother's grandson. He wanted to justify almost all of his daytime behavior, and to explain that he behaves exactly like her in his years, just the form of representation has changed a little, nothing more.

  24. ryokeken

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