Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703) – that’s pronounced like “Peeps” as in the marshmallow-like Easter candy that are fun to put in the microwave and watch expand (you see what I did there, now?) – was an English MP and naval administrator. But that’s not why he’s particularly remembered. He’s recalled by historians so fondly because, throughout the 1660s, he kept a personal diary detailing the life of a man intimately involved in the governance of Restoration-era England. This is how we’ve come to know a great deal about that period of time which, as it so turns out, was kind of important in the grand scheme of things. Anyone who’s spent a year or two slogging through The Baroque Cycle knows all about that.
The whole idea is, taking away any sort of visual representations through video, photography, and paintings (and the first two haven’t exactly been available for that long, relative to human history), the best resource for illustrating how people lived in the past has always been the written word. Without someone bothering to write it all down, centuries later there’s precious little to go on. Someone had to write about it then for us to know about it now. The words, more than anything, color our understanding of the past from which we have all come.
Of course today we’ve got all manner of technology used to record what’s going on in real-time. Hell, maybe like in Snow Crash (okay, no more Stephenson references, I promise) some folks will just become living conduits to record everything they see, all the time, before too long. Maybe the lossiness of history will start to dwindle to nothing. Maybe that, more than anything, is a sign of the technological singularity.
…where was I? Oh, right. Turns out I’m not really a futurist, so until I’m proven wrong and so long as what’s left to the past can still disappear as fast as memories are re-written to creatively fill in gaps, doubts and points of confusion (which, by the way, happens 100% of the time, so if I were you I wouldn’t rely alone on your fond memories of more or less anything), I’ll still be recording my life by hand, here in the 2010s.
And that’s what this is.