Lauren Sperber

blogging circa 19th century, writing for the web circa 1992

So here’s a cool MosNews article about how Vladimir Odoevsky, a 19th-century Russian prince, predicted blogging in his novel Year 4338. An interesting excerpt from an unidentified translation of the novel:

The job of publishing such a journal daily or weekly is carried out by the butler. It is done very simply: receiving an order from the masters, he makes a notice of what they tell him, then make copies by camera obscura and sends them to the acquaintances.

Hey, if I had a butler to blog for me, maybe I’d have a life.

But, um, not only is that quotation completely unreferenced by MosNews…so is the blog that they supposedly found it in. They claim that the information was blogged by one “Ivan Dezhurny, a Russian poet and singer” who is “generally fond of futuristic literature” but they don’t provide a link to his post or his blog.

What year is this, MosNews? Link, people! Link to your sources! That is what hypertext is here for. Even if it’s an incomprehensible Russian-language silly-willy LiveJournal. We are curious and we want to see the original right-now-this-very-second live-and-on-our-computer-screen. This is why we’re using the internet rather than a reference book.

But what’s really disturbing here is that this “Ivan Dezhurny” character is completely ungoogleable outside of the MosNews article and (as of the time stamp of this post) one referencing site with identical text. Whoever heard of an ungoogleable blogger? Sure, the Wired article hints at the possibility of blogging anonymously or under an assumed name, but then, er, wouldn’t MosNews be calling him his blog name or “an anonymous blogger”?

Very mysterious indeed.

обновление—I think that means “update” in Russian.

Well, it’s been a veritable tempest of Russian visitors and information-providers. First of all, I want to provide some html-ified links to Ivan Dezhurney’s original post and an English-language page about Prince Odoevsky, both of which Sergei Rublëv kindly provided in my html-stunted comments.

I’m trying to decipher Sergei’s recent post with this rather spiffy online translation app and I think what I’m gathering is that he wrote this Russian article about Odoevsky (quite properly linking to Ivan’s post) for the news site. I know absolutely nothing about, but, hey, they’re doing a better job of writing for the web than MosNews.

What I’m really digging, though, is the text that Sergei used to link to my Odoevsky post: это. My online translator renders this back to English as “it” and provides “кенспекл” as the Russian for “kenspeckle.” Wonder what made him choose это.