Blogging in the Early Republic

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Indeed, blogging demonstrates the persistence of a key truth in the history of reading … that readers, in a culture of abundant reading material, regularly seek out other readers, either by becoming writers themselves or by sharing their records of reading with others.

There have been a ton of comparisons made between bloggers and pamphleteers like Thomas Paine, but an article from argues that the better historical anology is to “journalizing,” a practice of journal writing and sharing that developed after the proliferation of newspapers in antebellum America.

Surrounded by ephemeral print, many began to make references in their journals to what they had been reading—the rough equivalent of what bloggers do by linking to a Web page. During the Revolution, for instance, Christopher Marshall, a Philadelphian radical and friend of Thomas Paine, peppered his journal with references to the papers, often with brief comments on the news.

In other words, we don’t all have the audience of a Thomas Paine or George Orwell, but we may still use our blogs to, like Christopher Marshall or reformer Henry Clarke Wright, “mix quotidian reflections about life together with records of [our] reading.”

[via PB]

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