The writer of the Future Now piece points out that the parallels are not exact. Still, the idea is interesting. Clearly there is great value in having diverse individuals with different kinds knowledge come together and share it informally in real-time. Doesn't this sound like net surfing, for example:
...most people frequented several coffee-houses, the choice of which reflected their range of interests... The wide-ranging interests of Robert Hooke, a scientist and polymath, were reflected in his visits to around 60 coffee-houses during the 1670s.
Coffee houses were also hotbeds of political activity:
...many attempts were made to prohibit coffee and coffee-houses in the Muslim world. Some claimed it was intoxicating and therefore subject to the same religious prohibition as alcohol. Others claimed it was harmful to the health. But the real problem was the coffee-houses' alarming potential for facilitating political discussion and activity.
Charles II in England also tried to shut down the coffee houses for much the same reasons but everyone just ignored him. One French visitor to London, the Abbé Prévost, declared that coffee-houses, "where you have the right to read all the papers for and against the government", were the "seats of English liberty".
Interesting article. Read it all.
== kinshi == prohibition
|Bottom radical is 'altar' (示). Top radical is 'forest' (林), used phonetically to express 'abstain'. This character originally referred to religious restrictions, i.e., 'to abstain for religious reasons'. The meaning is now broader. Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Altar in forbidden forest.'|