The history of communication dates back to the earliest signs of life. Communication can range from very subtle processes of exchange, to full conversations and mass communication. Human communication was revolutionized with speech about 200,000 years ago. Symbols were developed about 30,000 years ago, and writing about 7,000. On a much shorter scale, there have been major developments in the field of telecommunication in the past few centuries.
If you have an Internet connection, chances are you are spending much more time surfing the Web than watching TV. A new IDC study of consumer online behavior found that the Internet is the medium on which online users spend the most time (32.7 hours/week). This is equivalent to almost half of the total time spent each week using all media (70.6 hours), almost twice as much time as spent watching television (16.4 hours), and more than eight times as much time as spent reading newspapers and magazines (3.9 hours). "The time spent using the Internet will continue to increase at the expense of television and, to a lesser extent, print media," said Karsten Weide, program director, Digital Media and Entertainment at IDC. "This suggests that advertising budgets will continue to be shifted out of television, newspapers, and magazines into Internet advertising." The data also show that consumers tend to use the media they grew up with. The older the respondents, the more they consume TV, newspapers, and magazines; the younger they are, the more the Internet displaces usage of traditional media. Using search engines (84% of respondents), mapping and navigation services (83%), personal research (77%), and using email (76%) are the most frequent online activities.From: IDC study, U.S. Consumer Online Behavior Survey Results 2007 – Part One: Wireline Usage (Doc #210097)
Taking it into theatre, using a chat-room-like technology (and IRC), Stuart Harris created an experimental theatre troupe: the Hamnet Players. After more than a year of preparation and experimentation, in December 1993, an international cast led by Harris performed an IRC adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The production appeared on computer screens around the world through an IRC channel coordinated from San Diego, California, and was repeated in February with Ian Taylor of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the title role. The second performance was enlivened by a bot, an automated program written to behave like a real user, which accidentally killed Hamlet halfway through the production. The inherent script-like quality of IRC and the use of direct speech as the main mode of communication are features which enhance the dramatic potential of text-based online communication. IRC shares the first of these features with MUDs and MOOs.
IRC, MUDs and MOOs are perfect for performers and audiences to mingle; the creation of the environment is a co-production between all who come to participate. The possibility to create text-based sets and objects that remain on the server for later use is what made MUDs and MOOs even more interesting than IRC as a venue for organized online performance.