Some days it doesn't take much to get my brain off on strange wanderings. In this case I spotted a pretty book on the Barnes and Noble bargain table, the title of which was The Blind Contessa's New Machine, by Carey Wallace. This turned out to be a novel based on a historical truth; it was about the relationship between Italian inventor, Pellegrino Turri, and Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano, who was blind. In 1808 he invented a typing machine. According to The Classic Typewriter Page there are still samples of the Contessa's letters in existence.
Now what does this have to do with social media marketing?
Probably not a whole lot, though they both share a few commonalities. The most obvious is that they both are a means of communication, but even more powerfully, they both are inventions that have radically shaped communications. And they both started out as a frippery - a novelty.
We have always been looking for easier ways to communicate, and so efforts had been made since before 1714 to create some form of typing machine, but it wasn't until 1873 that the the Sholes & Glidden Type Writer typewriter began production. The machine came to America in 1874, and Christopher L. Sholes invented the QWERTY keyboard for them.
The early machines, not surprisingly, were expensive for the day - $100.00.
And that is another difference with social media, since it is for the most part free. The main expense is the device to access it, and that can be everything for a computer to your cell phone.
When you think about it, the typewriter, even the expensive ones, opened up personal printing for people. They didn't have to go to a printer to have basic items done, and the material was more easily read, as opposed to handwritten. In the twentieth century the typewriter became the tool of the office. Social media has expanded the reach for people around the globe; it is not as limited as a email list, and more interactive than a website. So it is now, too, a tool that businesses are beginning to turn to, since it gives them a much broader audience.
These are but two cases in the history of inventions, but history's hindsight allows us to smile at the reactions people had to new inventions. Inventions that become part of our everyday lives.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.