Stanford Project Reveals The Vast Social Networks of the 1700’s

This is how our intellectual foundation progressed in the time of letter writing… by Nick Westvoltaire letters

Back in the day (I’m talking way way back in the 1700’ss), the world’s greatest thinkers (think Voltaire, and Benny Franklin) didn’t always live a hop, skip, and a jump away from each other. They also didn’t have Facebook, or more importantly, Snapchat. However, in order to ensure the perpetual progression of our intellectual foundations during the Age of Enlightenment (hola, 9th grade history) , they actually had to write and send….letters. So, the people with perhaps a little too much time on their hands over at Stanford (just joshin’), have created a visual network of the Republic of Letters — basically a digital representation of as much of the genius correspondence that was going on this time of reason and individualism.

Why visualize, you say? “The digitization and visualization is simply another path to trying to add complexity and life to a lost world that we can never go back into,” says Caroline Winterer, a member of the Mapping the Republic of Letters team.

We’ll take it from Caroline, because, well, science. Or something.

You can actually play with social network with this amazing tool here: Republic of Letters


Watch a video about the project here:

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