A Whitman Sampler

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bloggers like to think they're doing something new, and they are, technically at least.  But the art of writing an individual blog post—a short, opinionated, self-contained dispatch linked to a longer series of thoughts—is nothing new. Recently in the New York Review of Books, Robert Darnton looked at the forerunners of modern blogging in the 18th century British and French press, and found that today's highly personal, often sensational style of online writing has been around for a long time.

Open Letters Monthly is examining blogging's roots in a different way with Whitman's Blog, updated every few days with dispatches from the Civil War front from his classic, Specimen Days.  The entries fit the blogging medium just right, as do similar projects like Phil Gyford's reproduction of Samuel Pepys' diary online.  The old masters would have been pretty good at blogging, and I bet they would have come up with a better name for it too.

(via The Book Bench)