Monday, December 11, 2006

Dear diary,

As Ralph just pointed out, the internet has changed the face of publishing, and given authors a chance to build their own buzz and be discovered by the wide world. It's an interesting development. Here's another development of the internet that may have some interesting ramifications down the road.

A few years ago, historians were fearing that much of the flavor of future histories would be lost because of a dearth of diarists. Through history, many people, the famous and the unknown, have kept daily journals -- they've often provided valuable insights into the events and way of life of their times. For example the war time diary of Mary Chestnut gives us a very tangible look at life on the Confederate homefront during the Civil War.

The 20th century saw a decline in this exercise, with diairies and journals becoming the stereotyped as the province of teenage girls and feminists pursuing literature degrees. But the rise of the blog is creating a new generation of personal journalists who write about nearly everything -- from the profound to the mundane.

It may be that these are a great source of raw material for future historians. Then again, since they're rarely put into "hard copy," they may disappear in a few years. Time will tell.

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