So as many of you heard by now, as of Tuesday, Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook. I know... crazy, right? I mean we all knew he was a smart man, and some would say even a visionary. But to come up with the primitive version of a modern day multi-billion empire data collecting empire, he sounds Nostradamus-like. It may sound a little hard to believe, but we all read about it on a blog on the internet, so it must be true, right?
A blogging consultant by the name of Nate St. Pierre first reported this discovery on Tuesday as a happy accident. While at the Lincoln Museum, he discovered a rejected patent from 1845 for a Facebook-like newspaper. Here is an excerpt, as well as photos, from St. Pierre's experience.
Lincoln was requesting a patent for "The Gazette," a system to "keep People aware of Others in the Town." He laid out a plan where every town would have its own Gazette, named after the town itself. He listed the Springfield Gazette as his Visual Appendix, an example of the system he was talking about. Lincoln was proposing that each town build a centrally located collection of documents where "every Man may have his own page, where he might discuss his Family, his Work, and his Various Endeavors."
He went on to propose that "each Man may decide if he shall make his page Available to the entire Town, or only to those with whom he has established Family or Friendship." Evidently there was to be someone overseeing this collection of documents, and he would somehow know which pages anyone could look at, and which ones only certain people could see (it wasn't quite clear in the application). Lincoln stated that these documents could be updated "at any time deemed Fit or Necessary," so that anyone in town could know what was going on in their friends' lives "without being Present in Body."
This is incredible. I mean, this changes a lot about what we know about Lincoln. This also opens up other questions. I wonder if any living descendants of Lincoln will join the Winklevosses in a lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg? I mean, there is a lot of money at stake. I also wonder what it will do to Facebook stocks since it is about to go public soon. St. Pierre got a few bites and the story spread through the Internet and Twitter as a newly-discovered fact. However, a story this grand was clearly, without a doubt, a hoax.
Now one may ask one's self, why anyone would want to go to such great lengths to create such a hoax. Well, St. Pierre had several reasons. First, he said he was bored with the blog posts of that particular day and "wanted to do something fun" that would make him laugh. Another reason for the hoax was to "to illustrate one of the drawbacks to our 'first and fastest' news aggregation and reporting mentality, especially online." Most notably, St. Pierre wanted to draw attention to a consulting service he launched the following day. Yep folks, this was a marketing stunt. He write this story in the hopes of selling his services to a larger audience, just as I am writing this blog in the hopes of selling more promotional products. Did it work?