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1660 Diary Becomes 2003 Weblog 193

EnlightenmentFan writes "When technology improves a book that was already good, that's good news for nerds. I'm not talking about the Two Towers, but the diary of Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) (pronounced Peeps, as in marshmallow peeps), whose diaries record not only the Great Fire of London and the plague but his many seductions, trickeries, encounters with the king, almost getting executed, etc. Brit blogger Phil Gyford realized that this diary would make a great weblog--clickable footnotes, online feedback and all. So now he is serializing it daily, starting Jan 2, 1660, supposedly over the next ten years. The BBC has the backstory. I hope Gyford will deviate from Gutenberg's 1893 version to include some of Pepys's more outrageous sexual adventures, reduced by the 1893 version to "....""
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1660 Diary Becomes 2003 Weblog

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  • Is this automated (Score:1, Interesting)

    by NetPoser ( 266960 )
    ...or does he manually enter text everyday?
  • Well lets hope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <research@aceretail.com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:34AM (#5006360)
    The good stuff isn't lost to history - you never know how many great works are destroyed by censors. Did Shakespear ever recover from being Bowlderized?

  • by HealYourChurchWebSit ( 615198 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:35AM (#5006372) Homepage


    Via blogs4God [blogs4god.com] I found "the Fathers of the Christian Church [wayneolson.com] as well as a few other blog that basically take books, devotionals or diaries out of the past and post them blogs.

    I personally think this is a cool way to teach history. I'd like to see more of this on the high-school level as a means of familiarizing students with the great men and women of antiquity on a personal level.

    • I personally think this is a cool way to teach history. I'd like to see more of this on the high-school level as a means of familiarizing students with the great men and women of antiquity on a personal level.

      Perhaps blogs might work as a supplimentary source, but not as a replacement for actually reading the assigned text. What happens next week when blogging becomes passe? Is this promoting form over content ("I'll read Marie Antoinette's web log, but pick up a book?!?! Yucko! That is just so 20th century"). Is it the job of educators to reformat content to display in the currently accepted paradigm, which is likely to be supplanted before the reformatting is complete?

    • I think that's http://www.blogs4god.com [blogs4god.com]. That said. Yes, there are quiet a few journals out there that portend historical diaries and journals.

      I also agree this would be a good teaching tool. I think it might also be a great extension to the Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org].

      Back in the day, and I mean way back like in the day of Mozart, music was taught by having students copy scores of the great masters. It might be a good practice to do the same by web logging historical figures of the past. The question is, will the DCMA stick its ugly head into the mix and put the kibosh this good teaching tool?
  • i was hoping somebody would make a weblog out of kurt cobain's diaries... BTW you can buy his diaries at Barnes and Nobles. Pretty interesting, with all the sketches.
    • Would you like some guy getting rich off your diary when you're dead and gone?

      Actually, thinking about it, I wouldn't give a crap, cause I'd be dead.

    • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )

      The problem with that is something that every Slashdot reader should be familiar with: copyright infringement.

      As mentioned in the BBC article about Pepys' diaries, "Copyright isn't a problem; the remarkable Project Gutenberg, a community effort to make electronic texts of copyright-free books available to everyone, has produced a version of the diary dating from 1893."
  • Hmm... (Score:1, Funny)

    by nrvous6 ( 590059 )
    Who knows, this could become more popular than userfriendly.org! I mean, who doesn't want to read a 300 year old diary...
    • It's probably a lot more interesting than some 19 year old angsty girl talking about her ex-boyfriend saying "BOYS SUCK!@#!@#"

      "You are so offeth my friends list!"

  • hundreds of years later, "...." would become a perfectly valid expression in videogame cinematics, meaning... wait a minute, what the hell does that thing mean?
  • Bloggus Caesari (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dazed-n-confused ( 140724 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:37AM (#5006399)
    It's not a diary as such, but this reminds me of the excellent Bloggus Caesari [sankey.ca] ("The Original Warblogger") - Julius Caesar's ruminations from Gaul, now in weblog form, a tad over two thousand years later.
  • by The Llama King ( 187264 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:39AM (#5006406)
    While I'm as big a fan of weblogs as anyone, I gotta say this just proves a point I've been making for a while ... there's not much really cutting edge about them. They're diaries that happen to have hyperlinks. The only reason they get read, I think, I is people like to look in other people's windows.

    And the view is a lot more interesting in some of those windows than others. Pepys lived a life that's a lot more interesting than almost anything today.

    • by mgaiman ( 151782 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:55AM (#5006517) Homepage
      But the difference between a standard blog and, for example, Pepys Diary, is the audience. Weblogs are meant to be viewed by anyway, by everyone.

      Pepys diary was encoded and the code wasn't even cracked until long after his death. This, you get a brutally honest portrayal of what actually happened. Whereas with blogs, basically people are just trying to prove how witty they can be.
  • by bje2 ( 533276 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:39AM (#5006407)
    maybe in the year 2300 someone will take the slashdot archives and start posting them daily to a web log...i wonder if people will get the "FP" and "In Soviet Russia" references...
    • If history awareness in 2300 is anything like it is today, the readers will probably think that the USSR and Slashdot were around at the same time.
    • It's called 'duplicate posting'.

      So all the stories on /. lately that have appeared several times aren't really dupes, they're just reposting the historic archives of /. as a weblog...sometimes 3 or more times over.

  • Outrageous! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Spunk ( 83964 ) <sq75b5402@sneakemail.com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:40AM (#5006410) Homepage
    I hope Gyford will deviate from Gutenberg's 1893 version to include some of Pepys's more outrageous sexual adventures, reduced by the 1893 version to "....""

    Yes, the one thing the Internet lacks is sex.
  • by serps ( 517783 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:41AM (#5006412) Homepage
    I hope Gyford will deviate from Gutenberg's 1893 version to include some of Pepys's more outrageous sexual adventures, reduced by the 1893 version to "...."

    Oh, I don't know. I browse at -1: it's amazing what images can be evoked using only punctuation. :-)

    • it's amazing what images can be evoked using only punctuation. :-)

      Yeah, like some jackass in a robe with a Bible in one hand, a torch in the other, and a stack of "lascivious writings" in front of him...
  • >"I hope Gyford will deviate from Gutenberg's 1893 version to include some of Pepys's more outrageous sexual adventures..." ...because there's nothing geeks enjoy more than hearing about other people having sex.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone have Bernard Schifman's story? I'd be willing to turn that into a movie.
  • When I say the name of my friend, Biggus ... Dickus???

    Blogging has jumped the shark.

    It's great the way bloggers show their individuality by posting their daily thoughts, just like all the other bloggers.

    Blogging is dying.
  • in : where my peeps at?

    couldn't resist...
  • mirror (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:49AM (#5006472) Homepage Journal

    Jan 11, 1660: Not much happening today. Lost one o my kids in the bog.

    Jan 12, 1660: Damne bog ate my dog. Off to the pub for a pint.

    Jan 13, 1660: Walking back from the pub early this morn, almost fell into the bog.

    Jan 14, 1660: Good Lord.. the Mayor fell into the bog. Presumed lost. Kenny Axeblood wants to take over. 'Aye' I say.

    Jan 15, 1660: God hates our wee village; Kenny Axeblook walked into the bog and disappeared from our sight. We think it's that woman with the wart. Off to burn her.

    Jan 16, 1660: Burnt the witch and threw her remains into the bog.
    • Please no.... First a Log Blog [slashdot.org], now a Bog Blog!
    • Re:mirror (Score:5, Funny)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:14PM (#5007105)
      > Jan 11, 1660: Not much happening today. Lost one o my kids in the bog.
      > Jan 12, 1660: Damne bog ate my dog. Off to the pub for a pint.
      > Jan 13, 1660: Walking back from the pub early this morn, almost fell into the bog.
      > Jan 14, 1660: Good Lord.. the Mayor fell into the bog. Presumed lost. Kenny Axeblood wants to take over. 'Aye' I say.
      > Jan 15, 1660: God hates our wee village; Kenny Axeblook walked into the bog and disappeared from our sight. We think it's that woman with the wart. Off to burn her.
      > Jan 16, 1660: Burnt the witch and threw her remains into the bog.

      Jan 17, 1660: 1) Elected new mayor in the bog. He fell into the bog before he could be sworn in. Burnt another witch. That witch burned down, fell over, and then sank into the bog, but the third witch stayed up!

      Jan 18, 1660: 2) In pagan Denmark, bogs fall into you!

      Jan 19, 1660: ...

      Jan 20, 1660: 3) ...geld!

  • by kvn299 ( 472563 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:49AM (#5006474)
    I've seen several sites that do this kind of thing, but usually via email instead of a blog. Every week a new chapter of a public domain book is sent to subscribers.

    It'd also be interesting to see other famous diaries given this treatment. Think Anne Frank, or Anais Nin. However, in the later case, the blog's past entries would have to be heavily revised every once in a while .

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:51AM (#5006483)
    (from his blog:)

    "The best thing about Pepys, I thought, when I read the diaries, some years ago, was watching him change, with the country, from the puritan days to the restoration -- watching him discover the theatre (to which he slowly becomes addicted), watching him grow and reinvent himself. The other best thing is that, confiding in a coded diary, he gradually becomes unutterably honest, and thus human, sometimes shockingly so."

    I thought you guys might be interested.
  • by KludgeGrrl ( 630396 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:52AM (#5006496) Homepage
    I'm all for folks reading the "great men" of the past (and the women too), but even after reading the BBC link I'm at a loss to see what makes this medium an improvement.

    Yes, you can read a little bit each day -- but is that not equally possible with a book (or even the online version of the diary)?

    Yes, people can add comments explaining the "archaic" English (according to the article), but should I trust these explanations? How many Samula Pepys experts will be following this, and how many yowzers?

    Blogs can be great tools, but I don't see how in this particular case the medium is especially useful. There's so much hype about technology improving learning, but after watching many a powerpoint presentation, I'm wary of too much hoopla with too little benefit.

    But hey, the internet really does need more blogs, so I guess a new one can only be a good thing ;)
    • Yes, you can read an entry from a book each day, but for many people these days, who read a number of sites (like /.) every day, it's easier to slot another website into that routine.

      There's no reason you should trust the annotations any more than on any other site (like /.). You have to use your own judgement.
      • " Yes, you can read an entry from a book each day, but for many people these days, who read a number of sites (like /.) every day, it's easier to slot another website into that routine."

        In other words, most of us don't get paid for time spent reading nontechnical books. Websites on the other hand...

    • Hear, Hear! (or is it Here!, Here!) Anyway, Good show! I do however think you give too much credit to blogs. As in any is too much. Jeez, people, READ the BOOK!! The book is always better than the movie (or the blog), unless it's written by a guy named Chritten.
  • Haha (Score:5, Funny)

    by swagr ( 244747 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:54AM (#5006506) Homepage
    We're Slashdotting someone who's been dead for 300 years.

    Bet he didn't see that one coming.
  • Gutenberg's 1893 version

    You mean Project Gutenberg's version of Henry Wheatley's 1893 edition? It just sounds like you are referring to the great Johann Gutenberg.

    When technology improves a book that was already good, that's good news for nerds. I'm not talking about the Two Towers

    Just to clarify: The Two Towers film did not improve upon the book. Faramir is spinning in his grave.
    • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:48PM (#5006931)
      The Two Towers film did not improve upon the book. Faramir is spinning in his grave.

      Uh... you are aware, right, that Lord of the Rings is not actually a history? Just to be clear: fictional character, never existed, not in grave. Okay?
      • One of the great things about LotR is that it is presented as if it were history. As such it has (quite obviously) built a somewhat rabid fan base. Changing the very nature of a fantastic character like Faramir is terribly unfair to the vision of J.R.R. Tolkien, who seemed to have accounted for every happening in Middle-Earth and the lands beyond, in his head somewhere. To be untrue to the vision is to be untrue to what 'truth' you can find in LotR.

        With that said; No one actually spins in their grave anyway, unless they're mounted on a turntable or rotisserie. So a fictional character spinning in their grave would seem to make more sense to me...

        • On the other hand, anyone who had sex before the age of 30 and/or within the last 5 years (internet/self/paid/cyber sex doesn't count) is willing to accept the movie on it's own terms, as a retelling of a story rather than a literal recreation, and enjoy it as told by someone with an actual sense of the dramatic, as opposed to Tolkien who probably found suspense in the conjugation of an irregular verb.
          • The same could be said for someone doing a remake of 2001 wherein HAL presents itself via a holographic bikini-girl avatar and suddenly wants to know more of this human thing called 'love'.

            Doesn't mean there's nothing to be dissapointed in.
  • by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMastradyne.co.uk> on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:56AM (#5006521) Homepage Journal
    Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) (pronounced Peeps, as in marshmallow peeps)

    Was that really necessary? I mean, are there really people out there who don't know how to pronounce Pepys? Did you not learn anything at school? Sheesh!

    BTW, I haven't the faintest clue what marshmallow peeps are...

  • by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <research@aceretail.com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @11:59AM (#5006550)

    http://www.progress.demon.co.uk/Fun/AOLer-diary. ht ml

  • by wherley ( 42799 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:02PM (#5006574)
    Never argue with the Viscount Crowhurst, as according to the NYT 9/27/61:

    London, Sept. 26
    Members of the historic Pepys family said today they pronounce the name
    "Pepp-iss" not Peeps"
    On the other hand, the Encyclopedia Britannica asserts: "The name was
    pronounced in the seventeenth century and has always been pronounced by the
    family, 'Peeps.' " ...
    The discrepancy came to light when Lady Paulina Mary Louise Pepys faced
    a magistrate on a traffic charge. The magistrate, A.A. Pereira, pronounced
    it "Peeps."
    "Sorry," Lady Paulina said, "but it's Pepp-iss."
    The magistrate, thus corrected, then fined her two pounds.
    "Of course I'm related to Samuel Pepys, and if he called himself 'Peeps'
    he was the first member of the family to do so and none has done it since.
    I don't like it pronounced 'Peeps.' "
    The present head of the family is John Digby Thomas Pepys, the 7th Earl
    of Cottenham and the 10th Baronet Pepys. His secretary said:
    "I can assure you that Lord Cottenham pronounces it 'Pepp-iss' and so do
    his son, the Viscount Crowhurst"
  • Old lies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Faeton ( 522316 )
    So instead of 21st century boasts, lies, gossip and fibs, we have 17th century boasts, lies, gossip and fibs.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • by Astoundo ( 316129 ) <astoundo@hotmail.QUOTEcom minus punct> on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:11PM (#5006637)
    I worked on a similar project a few years back: the diary [dohistory.org] of a revolutionary-war era Maine midwife. No one thought to call it a blog, but that's basically what it is--along with some teaching tools (this was NEH-funded). It's called dohistory.org [dohistory.org]. A lot of her diary focuses pickling vegetables and birthin' babies, but there's some real drama too; she testified in a gang rape trial, and her husband went to jail (on unrelated tax charges).
    • I've read the book A Midwife's Tale [amazon.com] transcribed from the diary in the above post. Its an excellent read.

      What would have been dismissed at the time as the mundane details of a New England midwife has proven to be an invaluable historical register of the area. Births, deaths, business transactions, travel routes, etc all preserved for future study.

      What better way to learn about history but from the perspective of the one who lived it (to the best of the writers recollection, anyway).

  • Not outrageous (Score:3, Informative)

    by blamanj ( 253811 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:30PM (#5006785)
    I hope Gyford will deviate from Gutenberg's 1893 version to include some of Pepys's more outrageous sexual adventures, reduced by the 1893 version to "...."

    Sorry, you're going to have to find outrageousness elsewhere. A footnote for Jan 1 reads, This is the first of too many censored passages marked by "...." wherin Mr. Wheatly determines (in this unabridged edition) that some of the words of Pepy's are too raw for our eyes.
  • The University of California's edition [ucpress.edu] is fairly recent -- I'd imagine there wasn't much in the 1970s that could shock Californians. I'm guessing this edition is more complete, and I'm asking my public library for a copy of it. Here's hoping it's got fewer ellipses (and more eccentricity).
  • by EnlightenmentFan ( 617608 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @12:35PM (#5006830) Homepage Journal
    I admit to enjoying Pepys's sex tales, though I'm not so interested in his bowels. I also get a bang out of the polyglot mix of Spanish, French, and Latin he used to disguise these bits in case his wife figured out the rest of his shorthand.

    To quote a Boston Globe article, now available only in the Google cache: [216.239.33.100]

    "Edited out until as recently as 1970 were the clumsy rolls beneath alehouse tables and the gropings in horse-drawn carriages, generally rendered in his unique personal porno style: 'and yo did take her, the first time in my life, sobra mi genu and poner mi mano sub her jupes and toca su thigh, which did hazer me great pleasure.' "

    • 'and yo did take her, the first time in my life, sobra mi genu and poner mi mano sub her jupes and toca su thigh, which did hazer me great pleasure.'

      Unique personal porno style, my left hind foot. My friend Stan sounds just like this after he's finished off the night's second bottle of Mother Goose's Sweet Potato Sparkling Wine.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:15PM (#5007117)
    presents the answer to a question posed to me here on Slashdot a few days ago when I was talking about eBooks and Project Gutenberg.

    What happens when the language changes only scholars can read Dickens and Twain?

    This is what happens.

    This can only happen *because* the work is in the public domain and presents one of the greatest arguments for works not remaining in the private domain overlong.

    It also serves as a great example of the true social utility of a free internet and I applaud the author for making this great literary and historical document accessable in a modern and entertaining manner.

    KFG
  • by infolib ( 618234 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @01:26PM (#5007182)
    From http://www.studioproteus.com/mn9912news.html [studioproteus.com] :

    His diary was written in a shorthand code called tachygraphy that was not deciphered until the 19th century. Pepys never expected the diary to be decoded and so wrote only for himself--the diary is brutally frank

    This is a clear example of DRM circumvention! Stop the terrorists! Now, where did i put my UAV?
  • Unlike most bloggers who simply paste other peoples rantings, published or otherwise. Like Boswell's biography of Johnson, the insights we get are the result of being a great writer and keen observer.

    I'm afraid that blogs are just random spatters dressed up the sense of legitimacy borne of nice web design. By and large the joy of writing is rewriting.
  • "I hope Gyford will deviate from Gutenberg's 1893 version to include some of Pepys's more outrageous sexual adventures, reduced by the 1893 version too."

    You hot-blooded geek, you.

    Great, now people want daily blogger smut...from the 17th century. Nothing like fantasizing about dead people. Gross, man, gross.

  • Copyright? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HuskyDog ( 143220 ) on Friday January 03, 2003 @02:55PM (#5007971) Homepage
    I fear that I am missing something here. I get the impression that the explicit bits (i.e. the '...' bits) are being left out because they are not included in the version which Project Guttenburg copied.

    So what? Presumably they are in the original and since that is 300 years old it must be out of copyright by now. Surely there are more recent editions which include the full unexpurgated text? Why can't the 'naughty bits' just be copied from one of them?

    Now, I understand that when someone re-prints an old text they are allocated a new copyright, but only on new work (text formatting and layout, footnotes, updated punctuation and spelling etc). But, we don't need any of that, just the original words. If these were just copied into the blog, how would anyone know whose edition they had come from anyway?

  • I'm a 23 year old woman, and I'll tell you what, a little sex in your blog will really spice it up. I used to just list links to programming and silly web sites, but now I occasionally add entries that detail my sex life. Readership has increased 5-fold.
  • by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) <mister@sketch.gmail@com> on Friday January 03, 2003 @07:28PM (#5010567)
    has to be the Very Secret Diaries [ealasaid.com] of the Fellowship of the Ring. I haven't laughed so hard in ages, definatly worth a read.

Documentation is like sex: when it is good, it is very, very good; and when it is bad, it is better than nothing. -- Dick Brandon

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