Saturday 9th January 2010

The second half of this article about Pepys on the Indian website Business Standard discusses this site:

In 2003, a quirky and enterprising young web designer named Phil Gyford realised that Pepys’s diary was tailor-made for the Internet age. So he started putting it online: as a blog. Every day Gyford uploads a new entry to PepysDiary.com, exactly as Pepys wrote it, and on the same calendar day. Thus, on his website, now seven years into the diary, it is January 9 of both 1667 and 2010.

In the way these things work, Pepys has now collected his own 21st-century community — a cohort of dedicated Pepys followers who await their daily dose of the 1660s. Because much about 17th-century London is opaque or mysterious to the modern reader, Gyford designed the blog so that knowledgeable readers could annotate each entry on their own. Every Pepys entry draws a train of comments, and out of this small space a community has grown.

I find this fascinating. It well reflects modern patterns of Internet-based fannish sociability — many strangers communing over an abstraction. Yet it also reflects Pepys’s own times, because the readers become amateur scholars and conversants. This reverses decades of academic specialisation; yet it highlights the academicisation of so much of our public discourse. Most of all, however, it’s amusing to note that we citizen Netizens can be so harmoniously collegial only about something in the distant past.

Also, there’s an article in the Times today which features a walk of Pepys’ London by historian and TV presenter Dan Cruickshank.

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