I am not sure if I should admit this publicly but one of my very infrequent hobbies is collecting old postcards.
Much of my collection harks back to the First World War including a series my great grand father posted to my grand mother on his way to Gallipoli in 1915.
Often I ‘m more drawn to reading the messages scrawled on the back of the cards, as opposed to the images on the front.
And the thing that strikes me more than anything is that in many ways postcards were kind of like the Facebook or Twitter of the 19th and early 20th century.
While that might seem odd, consider that many of my postcards are made up of less than 140 characters and contain pithy observations or greetings, much like Twitter. Plus, it was common place for people to use the postcards to quickly update the location of travel or to share some thought of passion, much like people today posting online to friends and family. (eg, Arriving by train Friday at 6pm, can you pick me up at the station?).
Sure, the big difference is the length of time it takes between transmission of the message and receipt – but the underlying human desire to communicate and share is really nothing new at all.
I think that is a critical insight for anyone interested in communication. Yes, modes of communications will come and go, but the critical requirement is to understand the emotional need that humans have to share their lives with others via pictures and words.