Samuel Pepys

A portrait of Samuel Pepys.

A portrait of Samuel Pepys.

Tour around London enough and you'll get to know Samuel Pepys quite well.

Samuel will tell you about the Great Fire of London, what London was like during the Great Plague, political events and people, his marriage, his ailments, famous and common people he encountered, arts he enjoyed and in which he participated, and his work on the Navy Board, which runs the British Royal Navy.

I know of no other diarist who wrote so regularly and thoroughly and humanly than Samuel Pepys. Also, I know of none other who is so relied upon by historians and history junkies for an understanding of a given place at a given time.

The diary evolved into its modern form in the early Renaissance. Pepys is considered one of the earliest notable diarists; he kept his diary faithfully from 1660 through 1669, only giving it up when his eyesight threatened to fail.

Could we consider Samuel Pepys the first blogger?

In the early days of blogging, most blogs took the form of on-line diaries: Each blog chronicled a person's daily life, opinions, and feelings. Similar to Pepys. Today, some quarters convey disdain for blogs that record the quotidian. Yet the minutia of Pepys’s life are what historians consider invaluable to understanding the English Restoration period. (As do tour guides all over London.)

Perhaps our disparagement of diaries is misguided.

Will tomorrow's historians and tour guides use any of today's blogs in the same way? Or will the vast volume of blogs—and data in general—be impossible for later generations to navigate?

Will blogs be important to our historical record—or lost in the ether?