Friday, August 12, 2005

Happy Thought

For quite some time now--years, really--I've been worried and troubled by the idea that snail-mail letter-writing seems to be dying out.

We know so very much about historic figures from their personal papers: letters, journals, etc.; and I just couldn't imagine a future in which Lit classes read old emails from author to friend or editor, full of email-isms and "w00t!" (which is a bit what my emails look like, for instance.)

Then I realized that we'll have blogs, instead. Heh.

Dr. Nokes at Unlocked Wordhoard touched on this the other day, with a post discussing an entry at Public Brewery speculating that Mark Twain would have been a terrific blogger. Public Brewery's PRB further ponders "I wonder what other people from the pre-blogging era might have made good bloggers. I'll throw out H. L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker, and Oscar Wilde for starters...

Dr. Nokes continues the discussion of writers who might have made terrific bloggers. (He's still tinkering with some technical attributes of his blog, so let me know if that link isn't quite right for you.) He adds a number of names to the list.

Jonathan Swift gets my vote as someone who would have made great use of blogging.

But the whole concept made me smile--because, for me, the most interesting stuff on blogs often seems to happen in the comments, between various readers and the writer. That dynamic communication neatly reproduces a correspondence relationship between author and acquaintances/readers.

There might be a literary future, after all!


Lisa Spangenberg said...

In earlier blog posts I compared blogs and blogging to both commonplace books and nineteenth century (and earlier) pamphlets.

Mac said...

That'll teach me to read all the way back in the archives then, won't it! Off to take a peek...

Ms M said...

Bloggers interested in this topic may be interested in the following books and journal articles:

Naomi Baron has a nice book on paper writing and e-writing. Baron, Naomi.
(2000). Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where it is Heading. New York: Routledge.

Standage, T. (1998). The Victorian Internet : the remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century's on-line pioneers. New York, Walker and Co.

Danet, B. (1997). Books, letters, documents: The changing aesthetics of texts in late print culture. Journal of Material Culture, 2(1), 5-38.

Cyberpl@y: Communicating Online (Berg, Oxford, 2001; companion website,

Mac said...

Heh--Actually, I'd think most bloggers would be interested in this topic. The formation of fairly stable internet communities is sort of a bizarre and wonderful thing to watch.

Dawno (back from Vegas!) said...

I think of diarists as pre-web bloggers. There are still some out there who write in paper journals (my daughter is one, something I find so fabulous. I never had the discipline to keep a journal/diary at her age - heck any age - note that my blog is not a daily thing).

And the whole thing about the formation of stable communities - I'm so interested in the idea that bloggers and their commenters, as well as people (like me) who frequent message forums like the Absolute Write Water Cooler are part of a new form of community that can transcend so many barriers - race, gender, education, sexual preference, geography, social class, financial status - but they do also create a new set of insider/outsider dynamics: lurkers vs posters or newbies vs oldsters. Of course there are people like me who just dive in and hope for the best...

I don't see this on AWWC but I know of a board where there's a disctinct difference between the people who post on the 'lighter' topic threads vs. the ones that talk about 'deeper' topics. It took me some time to understand the 'culture' of that forum and feel comfortable in it, but only in a few topics because of the 'sub-culture' that exists in other topics.