Who Was The World's First Blogger?

Sei Shōnagon, b. 966: “Her writings were eventually collected and published in The Pillow Book (public library) in 1002. An archive of pictures and illustrations, records of interesting events in court, and daily personal thoughts, many in list-form, this was arguably the world’s first ‘blog’ by conceptual format and Shōnagon the world’s first blogger.”

Michel de Montaigne, b. 1533: “It’s been said—by Bakewell, with reservations, and others—that Montaigne was the first blogger. His favorite subject, as he often remarked, was himself (‘I would rather be an expert on me than on Cicero’), and he meant to leave nothing out (‘I am loath even to have thoughts which I cannot publish’).”

William Shakespeare, b. 1564: “Shakespeare writing the first blog ever created.”

Samuel Pepys, b. 1633: “When chocolate spread to London, renowned diarist Samuel Pepys (history’s first blogger) drank hot chocolate as his hangover cure after Charles II’s coronation.”

Sir Richard Steele, b. 1672: “Ben Hammersley in a talk called Etiquette and the Singularity delivered in Copenhagen, stated that the first blogger was Sir Richard Steele back in 1709. Steele who wanted to circulate his views and opinions did so by writing a letter three times a week. This letter—The Tatler—was distributed to its readers by street urchins.”

Benjamin Franklin, b. 1706: “Self-published, self-guided and self-promoting, Poor Richard’s Almanack was the world’s first blog.”

Paul Revere, b. 1734: “He excitedly retells Gladwell’s (inaccurate) version of Paul Revere’s ride and turns Revere into the first blogger, since the latter uses ‘blogging software instead of a horse to spread [an] idea virus.'”

Thomas Paine, b. 1737: “Thomas Paine was in effect the first blogger, and Benjamin Franklin was essentially loading his persona into the MySpace of the 18th century, Poor Richard’s Almanack.”

Charles Dickens, b. 1812: “Scholars are confidant [sic] that punchy opinion pieces, penned anonymously by Dickens in response to the social ills of the day, reveal him to be the first ‘blogger.'”

Mark Twain, b. 1835: “Mark Twain expert Robert Hirst had this to say about Mark Twain’s posthumously published memoir, which goes on sale Nov. 15th: ‘Partly a journal, partly a diary, and partly recollection. So yeah, I think of it as a kind of blog, a blog without a web!'”

Mary MacLane, b. 1881: “Excited that Melville House is republishing Mary Maclane, who invented blogging in 1902.”

George Orwell, b. 1903: “Held at Wellesley College, an elite American college for women, the conference featured panels that described him as the conscience of his generation, a prophet, a rebel, a misunderstood Christian, an early gay rights advocate, a latter-day Tocqueville, possibly the first blogger, and an obvious misogynist.”

Diane Vreeland, b. 1903: “Vreeland immediately launched her ‘Why Don’t You…?’ column on the pages of Bazaar. These aphoristic musings—which to me made Vreeland the first blogger—coaxed readers out of their quotidian existence and dared them to dream.”

I.F. Stone, b. 1907: “His putative claim to the title ‘first blogger‘ has become a cyberspace cliché.”

Marshall McLuhan, b. 1911: “Jacobs points out that McLuhan’s writing style— frustrating to those trying to wring out an argument—may have been ahead of its time, resembling the assertion-based, quote-heavy, quick riffs that characterize much internet-based writing.”

Hunter Thompson, b. 1937: “Dr. Hunter Thompson (the honorific came from a mail-order divinity school) was our first blogger , a skilled journalist who wrote funny, vivid opinion pieces about his time and place—Nixon’s America—in the magazines of his day: The Nation, Scanlan’s Monthly and, his most frequent stomping ground, Rolling Stone.”

Harvey Pekar, b. 1939: “‘He was the original blogger,’ said Dean Haspiel, a comics artist who collaborated with Mr. Pekar on The Quitter, a hardcover autobiography released in 2005.”

Michael Musto, b. 1955: “‘Do you think if you were a kid now, you would be a blogger?’ I asked. “Yeah,” Musto said. “I mean, it’s like in a way I was the original blogger. But now everyone in the world is a blogger, which means everyone on earth is a gossip columnist. I used to compete with maybe five people, now you’re competing with like five billion people.'”

Doogie Howser, b. 1989: “Doogie Howser has been jokingly referred to as the world’s first blogger. But the kid doctor’s quasi-poignant, ellipsis-laden insights more closely resemble Twitter updates.”



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Elon Green is a contributing editor to Longform.