This is interesting:
In reviewing volumes of diaries, mostly written by women, [a researcher] found many terse records about what was happening in daily life in the same style demanded by Twitter’s 140-character limit. Many diary entries ranged, for example, from what was for dinner to reports of deaths, births, marriages and travel, such as “April 7. Mr. Fiske Buried. April 27. Made Mead. At the assembly,” from the 1770 diary of Mary Vial Holyoke of Salem, Mass.
Diarists wrote under the constraints of small notebooks that allotted only a few lines per date entry, and some historians argue that diary writers — who lived busy, stressful lives in a time when leisure existed only for the rich — found such constraints freeing. Diaries of the era were intended to be semi-public documents to be shared with others, Humphreys said. The modern notion of confessional, reflective entries hadn’t come into play.
“Our whole notion of privacy is a relatively modern phenomenon,” she added. “You really don’t get a sense of personal, individual self until the end of the 19th century, so it makes perfect sense that diaries or journals prior to that time were much more social in nature.”
I would argue that the cost of a diary and ink must have also played into those brief entries, at least for some. I’d love to know what a notebook the size of today’s Moleskines would have cost in relation to the average person’s income…