Lydia PyneMar 15, 2022
The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Social Network
Reaktion Books 2021
For this episode, I met historian and writer Dr. Lydia Pyne. She is author of Postcards: The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Social Network (Reaktion, 2021). Postcards is a global exploration of postcards as artifacts at the intersection of history, science, technology, art, and culture. Postcards are usually associated with banal holiday pleasantries, but they are made possible by sophisticated industries and institutions, from printers to postal services. When they were invented, postcards established what is now taken for granted in modern times: the ability to send and receive messages around the world easily and inexpensively.
Fundamentally they are about creating personal connections—links between people, places, and beliefs. Lydia Pyne examines postcards on a global scale, to understand them as artifacts that are at the intersection of history, science, technology, art, and culture. In doing so, she shows how postcards were the first global social network and also, here in the twenty-first century, how postcards are not yet extinct.