New project to explore social networking in Renaissance Italy

Professor Jane Everson, from the School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Royal Holloway, believes that Italian academics of the Renaissance pre-dated today's Facebook and Twitter users by more than 400 years by using correspondence to debate social issues.

Everson will direct the study which will look at the exchange of ideas covering such topics as art, science and medicine. "The academies were international in membership and in correspondence with scholars and institutions in other European countries. In view of their international outreach, we concluded that the academies constituted the intellectual networks of early modern Europe -- the equivalent of today's internet-based networking and intellectual and cultural exchange," she said.