The Romans and Social Media

Cicero’s Web: How Social Media Was Born in Ancient Rome

Just a quick note on this article I stumbled over today, positing that social media is just one link in a chain going back at least 2000 years. It’s got me interested in the book, for sure, and it’s gotten me thinking about the transmission of knowledge in classical times (and, for Aven‘s purposes, what changes when you have magical means of sending messages as well as mundane channels). I particularly enjoy the implication that social media is a natural correction of the effects of the corporatization of media (an argument I’ve also seen regarding fanfic).

What I think goes one step further is that isn’t just the distribution of information that goes back so far — it’s the need to comment on what everyone else is saying and doing. Roman poets were famous for this, for everything from incisive political commentary that could end in banishment to the Black Sea to exposing the dastardly doings of dinnertime napkin-thieves. They also chattered about the sex lives of the rich and famous with a perverse enthusiasm and dogged persistence that would be admired by any modern tabloid.

Truly, the act of getting up in everyone’s business is an ancient one.

Oh my goodness, I’ve found the holy grail of describing things

Majnouna’s Tutorials.

People. Hands. Feet. Posture. Faces. Horses. Cats. Birds. Dragons. It’s meant to be a drawing guide, but the way Majnouna breaks down all the anatomical components of what make a living creature — it’s wonderful.

Thousands of Years of Moon Phases

Moon Phase Calculator

Ever-so-useful for setting the scene. 😉 I’ve used this for years. Heavens help me if the site ever goes down.

New Podcast Recommendation

The British History Podcast

I’m only about twenty episodes in, but I’m really enjoying this one so far. For one thing, the depth of the detail on Roman Britain is wonderful.

On Writing Historical Fiction

Tips for Aspiring Historical Fiction Writers, by Stephanie Dray (author of Lily of the Nile and its sequels)

I had a new idea…

I had a new idea…

Still very much nascent, but there are a few images, perhaps a few beginnings of characters and conflicts starting to swirl around in my head.

Podcast Recommendation: The History of Rome

The History of Rome

This podcast, apart from being a wonderfully entertaining and comprehensive documentation of the Roman Republic and Empire, was also a major source of inspiration for me before I began writing Aven. In that October before NaNo 2011, I discovered this podcast and listened up through what had been posted at the time. With that percolating in the back of my brain, Sempronius Tarren and his schemes were born. The world took shape, the alliances and rivalries grew, and the echoes of the ages resounded in my mind.

Pinterest Inspiration Board for Aven

Aven Inspiration Board — Also a great way to catalog bits of research to keep in mind.

Inspiration Board for The Antares Project

Inspiration Board for The Antares Project

A lot of fashion, some gadgets, some maps, some history — all perfect to get me in the mood for working on this project!

ORBIS: A Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World

ORBIS

Okay, this is seriously the coolest thing I’ve seen on the Internet in a really long time. I’ve been using it for Aven, particularly when it comes to estimating how long it would take the army to move. Not only does it calculate times and routes, it can estimate prices, adjust for seasonal variants, give you the shortest versus the cheapest versus the fastest, and (this is so cool) the little thing at the bottom shows when you’ll hit which intermediate landmarks, how long you’re at sea versus on land, etc.

orbis1 orbis2

The only impediment to its usefulness for me is that it’s all clearly done height-of-Empire — which is no surprise, that’s when you have the most places to go and the best information about how long it took. But I will still have some fudging to do since a lot of these roads didn’t exist yet at the end of the Republican and the very start of the Principate.