Renaissance specialists at Royal Holloway, University of London have discovered that the art of social networking pre-dates the Twitter and Facebook generations by more than 400 years.
An extensive research project investigating the work of the Italian academies, a group of alternative institutions to the universities and the courts that was responsible for debate and discussion on topical issues, has found that networking across the academies was flourishing.
Members of the academies discussed topical issues covering language and literature, through the visual and performing arts, to science, technology, medicine and astronomy.
Professor Jane Everson, from the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway and project Director, said: "The academies were international in membership and in correspondence with scholars and institutions in other European countries. In view of their international outreach, we concluded that the academies constituted the intellectual networks of early modern Europe -- the equivalent of today's internet-based networking and intellectual and cultural exchange."
The £780,000 research project, entitled The Italian Academies 1525-1700: the first intellectual networks of early modern Europe, will now look at how intellectual discussions were conducted and networks maintained.
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