Sunday 3rd June 2012
The end of the diary got a few mentions in the on- and offline media, and here’s a brief summary of it. I didn’t go looking for publicity because, although it feels like a big event, there didn’t seem much point attracting lots of new readers to the site just as it ends!
A little while ago my friend Russell Davies wrote a nice piece about the site in the UK edition of Wired magazine:
In the world of Twitter and Instagram, [the project] looks even more quixotically patient and focused. And that’s why the completion of Pepysdiary.com should be celebrated — it teaches us that the internet has power over other dimensions than the Social Graph and the Real-Time Web, that web success can be built with things other than venture cash, spammy PR and rapid scaling. Pepysdiary.com has a community because people found it, hung around and started contributing.
A week ago, the Portugese newspaper Publico had an article about the site in their magazine, after the writer, Isabel Coutinho, exchanged a few emails with me. I don’t think it’s available online, but I’ve put up a PDF (360KB) of the Portugese article, or a mostly comprehensible English version via Google Translate:
The daily reading of this version [of the diary] on the Web, in addition to the original text there hiperligations, notes, comments and access to discussions (which were born there), make the text more readable. “Do not make much sense to try to transform my website into a book - it works because of its links, maps, the possibility of making comments. A version of this daily published by Latham & Matthews already very good and has detailed notes-lhadas and much background information,” said the Briton.
And then, in the final couple of days there was a little flurry of coverage. Jason Kottke wrote a post on his blog, which is only a paragraph but his site is popular enough to send a lot of visitors our way:
More than nine years ago, Phil Gyford started publishing The Diary of Samuel Pepys online as a time-shifted blog…perhaps the first of its kind. During that time, each entry in Pepys’ diary was published 343 years after Pepys originally wrote them. In time, a popular Twitter account was added. The final entry will be published tomorrow (May 31), which is when Pepys suspended his diary in 1669 due to poor eyesight. Congrats on the run, Phil!
(For the sake of completeness, we received several times that traffic via a single word link on Dutch site Geenstijl (contains nudity!) and a single-line comment on Fark. I’ll do a final post about site statistics another day.)
Gyford’s decade-long project was not only successful in its completion, but in its ability to pave the way for similar archival projects. We know now that Gyford’s project has become the prototype for dozens more of its kind, from the live-tweeting of the Titanic to the Orwell Diaries.
The Los Angeles Times’ books blog, Jacket Copy also had a brief post about the diary:
Gyford added notes and created a system whereby readers — some of whom surfaced with deep expertise in Pepys and his period — were able to annotate freely. It has been an entertaining and marvelously ingenious time warp — but it’s almost over.
And finally, perhaps the longest article is by Justin Ellis at Nieman Journalism Lab, the bulk of which is the transcript of a conversation we had over Google Chat:
Ellis: Does Pepys translate well into tweets?
Gyford: Yes, I think so. Actually, at first I was thinking I’d just use Twitter to post a link to that day’s diary entry, because a lot of people seem to use Twitter for sharing links. Then I thought I should add a little quote with the link and then I realised I should just make it completely “in character” and be nothing but quotes from the diary as if it was Pepys tweeting. I think it works very well. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d have stuck through all of the diary-as-blog as a reader — I just wouldn’t be interested enough to cope with the length, when there’s so much else to read online. But I like the tweets a lot, how they slip into your daily routine, and give an impression of someone going about their daily business at the same time as everyone you know.
I’m not aware of any forthcoming articles so that probably wraps up the site’s press coverage!