A Brief History of Applause, the ‘Big Data’ of the Ancient World
The Atlantic recently published a very interesting article on the development of applause from ancient times to the present, comparing it to today’s Facebook like buttons and such other modern amenities. Author Megan Garber includes some wonderful factoids in it
In the seventh century, as the Roman empire was in the decline period of its decline and fall, the emperor Heraclius made plans to meet with a barbarian king. Heraclius wanted to intimidate his opponent. But he knew that the Roman army, in its weakened state, was no longer terribly intimidating, particularly when the intended intimidatee was a barbarian. So the emperor hired a group of men to augment his legions — but for purposes that were less military than they were musical. He hired the men to applaud.
Heraclius’s tactic of intimidation-by-noisemaking, the audible version of a Potemkin Village, did nothing to stanch the wounds of a bleeding empire. But it made a fitting postscript to that empire’s long relationship with one of the earliest and most universal systems people have used to interact with each other: the clapping of hands.
See on www.theatlantic.com