A Brief History of Applause, the 'Big Data' of the Ancient World


I see such articles, that I voraciously read from beginning to end, maybe 3 to 4 times a year. Such an incredible account of the history of something you didn't know was so deep and protean: applause. 

We clap because we're expected to. We clap because we're compelled to. We clap because something is totally awesome. We clap because we're generous and selfish and compliant and excitable and human.

This is the story of how people clapped when all they had, for the most part, was hands -- of how we liked things before we Liked things. Applause, participatory and observational at the same time, was an early form of mass media, connecting people to each other and to their leaders, instantly and visually and, of course, audibly. It was public sentiment analysis, revealing the affinities and desires of networked people. It was the qualified self giving way to the quantified crowd. 

It was big data before data got big.


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