Madame de Rambouillet talked in bed, stretched out on a mattress, draped in furs, while her visitors remained standing.Blue velvet lined the walls of the room, which became known as “the French Parnassus”: a model for the 17th- and 18th-century salons, where aristocratic women led male in polite and lively discussion. But conversation, in the 17th century, was a novel ideal of speech: not utilitarian instructions or religious catechism, but an exchange of ideas, a free play of wit.Because AOL permitted five screen names per account, it was possible to use one for strangers, another for friends.
It was like standing outside the door of a party that all your friends had been invited to. Gmail began “in beta” and by invitation only in 2004 and remained technically in beta for the next five years; it continued to feel exclusive long after everyone was using it.Face-to-face exchanges continued in the exchange of letters.As the salon had the sofa, “written conversation”—as one style manual called it—had the desk, another invention of the 17th century. Unlike the flat bureau, the light, portable secrétaire featured stacks of shelves and cubbyholes, which were kept locked. Others opened from the top, as if the desk were a jewelry box—or a laptop. In the early days of the internet, chatting was something that happened between strangers. ” millions of people asked, and millions answered: On AOL—as of 1994, the most popular internet service provider in the US—half the member-created chat rooms were for sex.Gmail saves the histories of our chats, should we ever care to look.It turns out we use the internet to talk about what other people are talking about on the internet: “Oh god please look at what she just tweeted.” “Hang on I’ll find the link.” And then there are the tactical chats—“I guess I am not that in the mood for Thai food? Mixed in with the rest, and preserved for all eternity, they assemble further evidence of our gross mortal wastefulness.