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OMG, Mr. Churchill

Internet and mobile technologies aren’t necessarily helping us invent new things to do with ourselves. They’re just giving us new ways to do the same old things.

We think we’re so clever, with our emoticons, our texting abbreviations, our Instagram photos—and our blogs (guilty). Well, once again, there’s nothing new under the sun.

Apparently, the first emoticons appeared in 1881 in Puck humour magazine —along with helpful (if tongue-in-cheek) descriptions. At least they were right side up, instead of sideways, as our modern versions. :)

OMG: Also not new. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, British Navy Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher first used the acronym in a letter to none other than Winston Churchill. In 1917.

MMS, or multi-media messaging service, is new. Yes, but only the technology. Not the idea. Remember postcards? Today when you go somewhere, you snap a pic and send back to your loved ones at home. It’s the old “Wish you were here.” According to Wikipedia, the first known souvenier picture postcard was sent from Vienna in 1871, and gained popularity for the next 20-odd years until the “golden-age” of picture postcards in the late 1890s. Some even credit MMS with the death of the postcard.

And finally, blogging. The web’s DIY publishing platforms made it accessible—just like when the first affordable 'home' printing machines became available. Back then, there was a publishing flurry of local newsletters, some of which grew into actual newspapers. Some were so “local” that they were just about the publisher’s family. Sound familiar?