Thomas Jones in the London Review of Books says, 'Books and blogs, if they’re doing their jobs properly, are as different as two kinds of published text can be.' So a print collection of blog entries, Ultimate Blogs: Masterworks from the Wild Web is 'on the face of it, an early contender for most pointless book of the year'. This is because blogs are written and published quickly, and are open to revision and response, while books are not. Blogs are timely: that is why people apologise for periods without posts (none of that here), why way threads date quickly, so that it seems odd to post your comment long after everyone else, and why even very good blog entries collected in books seem so thin, thinner even than collected journalism.
Jones says that the best entries in the book are those from Samuel Pepys's diary from the 1660s. I've now subscribed to the feed from the Samuel Pepys Diary site maintained by Phil Gyford , and I find they do indeed work well as daily e-mails, sent on the date they were written (so I find that on the corresponding date in January 1664, he had a cold too). They are about the right length (never more than a screen) and they are devoted to such details as what he had for breakfast, who was at a meeting, quick bits of sex, and (most recently) lying awake all night because he thinks burglars might get in. The e-mailed entries work so well that I can't imagine reading them straight through in bound volumes (though I may try listening to the audiobook). Of course Pepys was not putting his diary entries out in public, but he had set himself the daily task of recording dailiness, and that is what makes him such a good blogger.
Dailiness is also the principle of a site I've mentioned before, Bill Lamin's blog posting the letters from the front in World War by his grandfather Private Harry Lamin. The site presents itself as Harry's blog, so on the Profile page, he lists himself as 120 years old. This would be like any other archive of Great War letters, except that they are posted on the blog on the day corresponding to the day they were sent. The irregularity reproduces the sense of waiting every day for news, and the uncertainty and open-endedness they had for the recipients in his family. They are not daily letters, but the blog ties us into the time of the writer, as the Pepys Diary site does.
The excellent WNYC podcast On the Media has twice drawn attention to a project by the Los Angeles Times reporter Jill Leovy (and now carried on by Ruben Vives), The Homocide Report. Leovy has been reporting the bare facts of every single homicide reported in LA County, every day (and there is, on average, more than one murder a day). One would think any newspaper would do that, but of course any newspaper treats some murders as newsworthy, those involving notable people, photogenic victims, grisly results, or repeated patterns; others are just items on the police blotter. Here every victim gets more or less the same attention (depending only on how much is known in the immediate aftermath): an area of the city and an address, the victim's name, gender, race or ethnicity, and age, a time, the cause of death, and a not very flattering photo. The deliberate flatness of the reporting contrasts with the emotional tributes posted in the comments on some (but not all) entries, reminding us that these sometimes rather grim looking people had daughters, customers, neighbours, old friends from high school. The Homocide Report is heartbreaking in a way a newspaper is not. What makes it such a moral project is that the reporter gives every victim the same care and attention, every day, just as soon as they know anything at all. No waiting to see if it is a good story, and no shaping into a rich novelistic narrative. Different as it is, Jill Leovy's resolution has similarities with the resolutions of Phil Gyford (for Samuel Pepys) and Bill Lamin (for Private Harry Lamin), to focus on today.