How would a blog work in the 19th century?


Alice

Blogging is definitely a 21st century phenomenon. So why am I thinking of it in Victorian terms?

Quite some time ago I posted a question on LinkedIn asking how would a Victorian gentleman view blogging. The responses were as varied as they were interesting, some even replying as if they were Victorian gentlemen themselves! Apart from the florid language and lengthy time taken to describe things, it was a good insight to break down blogging into its most basic format, to view it without all the bells and whistles that adorn this platform that could also confuse the true reason why to blog.

The internet was viewed as the telegraph, and therefore a blog is somewhere to publish your news through the telegraph system to reach a much wider gathering than through letter alone. Of course, sending a letter to The Times would certainly reach many readers, and the Victorians were compulsive letter writers (as well as reading them), but a blog could resemble an inclusive Gentleman’s Club through which you could submit your thoughts and musings, ideas and innovations, gripes and grumbles, retorts and responses, to both a private and public audience.

This opportunity to broadcast yourself as a source of authority, where readers will take your opinions as fact, would be much less expensive than writing and printing a series of pamphlets. These might be in danger of not reaching their intended audience, be wasted in their distribution, and be limited in their extent of circulation, and certainly could not enable their recipients to respond immediately through the same medium.

Your letters would reach their recipients much quicker than the usual method of postage, without the initial cost of paper, envelope and a stamp. And if you wanted to change your mind or add more to your message, this could be possible even after distribution. Replies may even be instantaneous, resulting in an immediate response of your own, thus adding to the conversation which could elaborate further on the subject matter.

And it would be worth while reading other gentlemen’s letters on their similar methods of communication, just to keep in the know, monitor what your competitors are doing, and steal a march on other exciting projects by acting first. Every time you reply to these letters, your signature will allow other readers of these missives to find out who you are and read what you have written, thus extending your expertise in the subject and your presence in the community.

And there is also somewhere where you can leave your visiting card for interested persons to access, find out more about you, and even take the opportunity to visit you, either at your Club or in person. You would only have to distribute one visiting card, as it would be able to be seen by a great many more persons than leaving it on the table in a Club or another social meeting place in the hope that it might get noticed.

What other elements of a Victorian business man’s life might be improved if he had this wonderful innovation they call a ‘blog’?

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