The Diary of Samuel Pepys will be starting all over again from the beginning on Sunday 1st January 2023.
It’s been twenty years since I started the site, since when the diary has cycled through its nine years and five months twice. Here’s my announcement blog post and here’s an article BBC News asked me to write a few days later.
As well as following the diary on the website (and its RSS feed of course) you can also:
- Subscribe to receive each day’s diary entry by email
- Follow excerpts throughout each day with @email@example.com on Mastodon
- Or do the same with @samuelpepys on Twitter
(I’ve wondered about not starting the Twitter feed again, at least until the place is owned by someone less terrible but I think a lot of people there are looking forward to the diary starting again. But I’m not happy about using the site.)
Anyway, follow along if you fancy.
§ Update: I posted about this on Twitter and Mastodon and grabbed a few quotes boosting the site from times past, which I thought I may as well add here too.
Some readers have wondered if the site says anything about the state of blogging. Are conventional weblogs unexciting and we’re craving novelty? I disagree - weblogging has never been healthier or more vibrant; the more people involved, the better the net is. Now the format is established and familiar, it’s far easier to create innovative ways of using it.
A few months later Clay Shirky gave a speech at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology conference:
The vertigo moment for me was when Phil Gyford launched the Pepys weblog, Samuel Pepys’ diaries of the 1660’s turned into a weblog form, with a new post every day from Pepys’ diary. What that said to me was: Phil was asserting, and I now believe, that weblogs will be around for at least 10 years, because that’s how long Pepys kept a diary. And that was this moment of projecting into the future: This is now infrastructure we can take for granted.
Now, in the world of Twitter and Instagram, it 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.
I asked Shirky what he thinks about Pepysdiary.com in 2012. How does it feel now? “It feels like 2003, the year of Friendster, when everything social seemed new, but now seems as quaint as a sepia photograph. Most of all, it is obvious that Phil was right, and that his understanding of how important weblogs would become wasn’t just spot on, but he also imagined, again ahead of us all, that there would come a day where that feeling of newness would end, that Samuel Pepys would tire of writing a diary the second time around too.” Maybe that’s the real lesson of Pepysdiary.com. We’ll only really understand what we’re doing when it stops feeling new, when we have a sense of history about what we’re making.