I'm just beginning to read author Niall Ferguson's new book, The Square and the Tower, which is an unconventional history of social networking. One of his primary examples of the most successful social networks in history happens to be the Masonic fraternity. And he recognizes that Freemasonry might very well have been responsible for the spread of Enlightenment-era democracy — something that Masonic scholars have known for quite some time.
From the cover:
"From the cults of ancient Rome to the dynasties of the Renaissance, from the founding fathers to Facebook, The Square and the Tower tells the story of the rise, fall and rise of networks, and shows how network theory--concepts such as clustering, degrees of separation, weak ties, contagions and phase transitions--can transform our understanding of both the past and the present."
If you have a Facebook account, have a look at the short video in which he talks about Freemasonry as one of the first truly modern social networks.
See it HERE.
"Facebook might be the biggest social network but it's far from the first, despite what those in Silicon Valley will have you believe. Stanford University fellow and Oxford University historian Niall Ferguson argues that social networks have been around for centuries and the most prominent of which — the Freemasons — could very well be responsible for democracy as we know it."