In the first, Sleepless in Seattle, we are introduced to a man that has lost his wife in a very public way, the radio. His son wants his dad to find another soul mate so they can both be happy. He then begins to receive unsolicited mail from women all over the country. So, Ephron uses a public forum to post information about a person, explain the past and current situation and invite people to friend him. That sounds a lot like Facebook; certainly definable as social media.
In the second, You’ve Got Mail, Hanks and Ryan are two bookstore owners that get to know each other via email. Ephron set up a situation where the Internet was used to establish a relationship that develops into love. It sounds a bit corny but the movie does not fail to entertain and, for many, both movies can elicit a tear or two.
In Julie & Julia, a woman seeking direction in her life decides to make every recipe from one of Child’s most famous books, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julie Powell documents this effort online in a blog that ultimately leads to a book and, of course, the movie in 2009.
Today, entertainment employs IP communications to convey futuristic settings and capabilities often. In Time starring Justin Timberlake is a very good example. But what made Nora Ephron special with regard to IP Communications and social media was the timing of her films. Sleepless in Seattle was released in 1993 and You’ve Got Mail was released in 1998 leveraging the popularity of AOL. Nora was smart and perceived a growing trend which could be integrated into interesting stories. In 1998 there were around 100 million internet users worldwide compared to 2.4 billion today. And, of course, incorporating a blog in 2009 in a movie was prescient as well.
With Ephron’s passing, I reflect upon my use of the Internet for in 1998. It was Yahoo for email and searching the web but I also discovered a website called Realtor.com which I used to find and purchase my home in Dallas. Useful since at the time I lived in San Jose, California.
Nora Ephron’s work goes well beyond our industry with such films as When Harry Met Sally and Silkwood. But this weekend, I think I will watch You’ve Got Mail and reminisce upon the growing influence and importance of our industry.