Eric Utne first stood at the intersection of media and conversations among audiences

Have the social networking and media audience trends we cover emerged recently? Not a chance. Read the profile of Eric Utne, founder of The Utne Reader in Minneapolis's The Rake magazine. Utne and I commisserated briefly in the early 80's prior to the launch of his magazine and my launch of the first magazine to have scannable PC software printed on its pages. As you'll see in the quote from the Rake piece, Utne planted the seeds of social networking in 1991 with his Salons.

"The stated goal of (Utne's Cosmo Doogood's Urban Almanac) is to draw people to nature, but the larger (and largely unarticulated) aim is to connect people to each other. Utne has long been entranced by the idea that cooperation creates power, which leads to change. In 1991, the Utne Reader published a story titled, “Salons: How to Revive the Endangered Art of Conversation and Start a Revolution in Your Living Room.” The piece drew national attention and, in fact, did start a bit of a revolution, with the New York Times discussing the revival of conversation and the L.A. Times publishing an instructive how-to called “Bringing Together Your Own Salon.” Both pieces credited Utne for instigating this new chattiness. Full article.