Rumor Mon­ger was con­ceived as an exper­i­ment in dis­trib­uted, light-weight com­mu­ni­ca­tion, what today we would call peer-to-peer instant mes­sag­ing with broad­cast. The pro­gram sat in the back­ground, con­tin­u­al­ly exchang­ing mes­sages with oth­er machines. The user could, at any time, bring it to the front and enter a new mes­sage, which would then be dis­trib­uted to every oth­er instance of the pro­gram with­in the com­pa­ny-wide local area net­work. As an after­thought, I added the option to send mes­sages anony­mous­ly. This was done sort of on prin­ci­ple, more than because I thought any­one would actu­al­ly use it. The test pop­u­la­tion was Apple Com­put­er employ­ees. To my sur­prise, Rumor Mon­ger rapid­ly became very pop­u­lar with­in the com­pa­ny. And even more to my sur­prise, 99% of all mes­sages sent were sent anony­mous­ly. This changed it from an exper­i­ment in tech­nol­o­gy into an exper­i­ment in sociology.

Meme Motes — Har­ry Chesley’s Weblog: Rumor Monger

I would have loved to be part of this experiment.

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.