Blogging Before Blogs

A friend and I were musing about who can take credit for the first blog ever produced. (Certainly not me. I jumped on the bandwagon rather late.)

If you stick strictly to the idea that blogs, by definition, are web based, I suppose with a little bit of digging one could find the first one. But really, blogs (short for weblog) tend to be highly unique to the writer. Some are random musings, such as mine. Others are highly researched. Some include commentary, others are all about the photographs and links to other articles. So how on earth would you begin your search?

To add another layer of complexity, humans did such writing before the worldwide web existed. They wrote diaries. They kept scrap books. And surely people of note must have realized that their personal letters would be kept and reviewed by others. We have a longstanding tradition of putting our thoughts and ideas out there for the world to see.

One of my favorite examples of this tendency are the colonial almanacks that were very popular in the 1700’s. The most famous of these, of course, is Poor Richard’s Almanack, written by Benjamin Franklin.

I have no doubt that Franklin would be a blogger if he were alive today. In fact, he put out this almanack annually from 1732 to 1758, and I happen to own a copy of the collected works. I love pulling it out and reading it from time to time. In the era of the horse and buggy, it was much more efficient to publish the thing once a year. But he’d probably be blogging and tweeting on a regular basis, if given the opportunity today.

His almanack included poems, sayings, astronomical and astrological information, a calendar (of course), and information about the weather. His writing was all about being frugal and working hard. Much of his work is still popular to this very day.

If you speak English, odds are you’ve quoted Poor Richard’s Almanack at least once in your life, whether you knew it or not. Here are three of his more famous lines:

  • A friend in need is a friend indeed!

  • Fish and Visitors stink in 3 days.

  • Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

I’ll be the first to admit that some of his sayings, especially about wives and servants, are controversial in modern times. But viewed through the lens of his era, Ben Franklin is one of my blogging heroes. I’d follow him.

Poor_Richard_Almanack_1739

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