September 09, 2005

OSW: Ben Hammersley - The 300 Year History of Blogging

Easy to spot at conferences, as he's the man in the kilt (as usual).

Sir Richard Steele was the first ever blogger (btw, he died in 1729). Similarities from 1700s to today - similar political environment. Using the then-new technology of printing presses, and distribution network of street urchins, he set about publishing his thoughts and ideas three times a week. He had 800 readers, so quite a few more than me then, even though I've got a global distribution network available!

The idea of manners was invented by (the 1700s) blogging. Everyone was starting to wear the same clothes, so you couldn't tell what class people were any more just by looking at them. The guy you're chatting to in the pub might be some ne'er-do-well who'll rob you when you leave, and you can't tell by looking.

The Tatler and The Spectator (these first weblogs) gave information about how to behave and interact with the people you met in the coffeehouse down the road.

So amateur publishing (and coffee) and the social aspect that goes along with it can cause a social revolution. What will today's blogging and social software cause?

We now have access to everything. We can search everything.

"Blogs can deliver intimately personal, focussed, findable information to the largest potential audience in the history of mankind, faster than information has ever moved before."

We have new concepts of friendship, of how to work together, of relationships...

This is how we can get people all over the world to connect to each other, and although it seems ridiculously far-fetched at the minute, it will change the world in huge ways.

Won't the people in power just use the new tools to stay in power? No, they generally don't have a clue. At present in the aftermath of Katrina there are techies going in setting up ad-hoc networks, wikis, etc. and the US government is busy trying to stop them because if they get it all up and running and people see that it works better than existing government they'll start to question why we have to listen to those guys in Washington.

Is text blogging already dead, 'cos speaking is more natural? No, the bandwidth of text is better, and written word gives you a basis for talking.

Will marketing blogs ruin it for everyone else? Nah, it's a sideshow - for example, Heat magazine hasn't destroyed classical literature. There's space for everyone. Blogs will change marketing, marketing won't change blogs.

Posted by Adrian at September 9, 2005 09:36 AM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

You can receive updates whenever a new post is written by subscribing to the recent posts RSS feed or


A nice little story from someone who has read your blog

Posted by: Geoff at September 23, 2005 10:28 AM

Cheers Geoff, I'd noticed that the other day on the OurSocialWorld river of news. It's interesting to see the discussions about the conference are still rippling round the 'net.

Posted by: Adrian at September 23, 2005 12:56 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Note: I'm running the MT-Keystrokes plugin to filter out spam comments, which unfortunately means you have to have Javascript turned on to be able to comment.