Wednesday, May 31, 2006

18th Century Bloggers--and Earlier

A professor at the University of Guelph makes a case for the self-published periodicals of the 1700s as ur-blogs from which the current online variety are descended. Under this theory, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, and Samuel Johnson were bloggers. They and others "brought about social change by highlighting debates over politics" and other contentious issues.

The book Blog!: How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business, and Culture already makes a case for Thomas Paine as a proto-blogger.

This stretches the definition of a blog so much that any similar impulse, no matter what the medium, could be called a blog. But this suggests to me that "blogs" don't have to be something written or typed on a keyboard. We could also include "oral bloggers" who effected social change with their words.

Paul Revere was an oral blogger, with his loud warning that the British are coming. Jesus was a blogger. What would Jesus blog? He blogged the Sermon on the Mount, and other statements that effected great social change. Other ancient oral bloggers would include Cicero and Demosthenes.

Who was the first blogger? What was the first blog? Were Egyptian hieroglyphic writings the earliest blogs? Or what about those cave paintings that are many thousands of years old? Art blogs!

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