Gossip Among Sapiens

I started reading Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens a couple of days ago and came across this on page 22:

Our language evolved as a way of gossiping. According to this theory Homo Sapiens is primarily a social animal. Social cooperation is our key for survival and reproduction…It’s much more important for them to know who is sleeping with whom, who is honest, and who is a cheat.

The amount of information that one must obtain and store in order to track the ever-changing relationships of even a few dozen individuals is staggering. In a band of fifty individuals, there are 1,225 one-on-one relationships, and countless more complex social combinations.

This made me racall what I read in the Verbs and Events chapter of Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling:

Any adequate interactive storytelling system must provide for the transmission of information among characters. I refer to such information transmission systems as gossip systems. This stretches the conventional definition of gossip to include all information related by one character to another, not just the “dirt.”

It was the mention of gossip in both books that caught my eye. Since Crawford thinks ontology recapitulates phylogeny when it comes to interactive storytelling I thought Harari’s statement about Homo Sapien’s earliest application of their augmented language skills a nice supporting argument for how this new medium might evolve.

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