The New York Review of Books has a fascinating article comparing blogs to 18th-century newspaper articles and pamphlets, commenting that they have similar tendencies to be brief, context-free, inflammatory…and often scandalous. Darnton suggests taking a look at a London newspaper from the 18th century in Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Conveniently, Tufts subscribes, so I’m happy to provide an example.
Topics in the Aberdeen magazine for the year 1761
- essay On the frailty and fatality of passions
- essay On the character of the Reverend Doctor Stephen Hales
- a letter to the editor with advice for the new magazine
- a short history of addresses
- a summary of a speech given to the New York General Assembly
- a letter to the publisher
- excerpts from a biography of Phillip II of Macedonia
This is completely random, and most of it is actually blog-post-length. I’m intrigued by the similarities, and by the idea that perhaps our tastes and attention spans haven’t changed as much as we sometimes think.