Rumor Monger

Harry Chesley, who worked in Apple’s Advanced Technology Group during the Jobs-in-exile years:

Rumor Monger was conceived as an experiment in distributed, light-weight communication, what today we would call peer-to-peer instant messaging with broadcast. The program sat in the background, continually exchanging messages with other machines. The user could, at any time, bring it to the front and enter a new message, which would then be distributed to every other instance of the program within the company-wide local area network. As an afterthought, I added the option to send messages anonymously. This was done sort of on principle, more than because I thought anyone would actually use it. The test population was Apple Computer employees.

To my surprise, Rumor Monger rapidly became very popular within the company. And even more to my surprise, 99% of all messages sent were sent anonymously. This changed it from an experiment in technology into an experiment in sociology.

Interesting precursor to Secret and its ilk — from 1990.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014