Journals started off as a private record, think of Samuel Pepys, one of the earliest known journals written in code so other people could not read it. With the establishment of mass communications came the opportunity to share journals e.g. newspaper social diaries, television, video diaries. However it is only with the internet that there is an opportunity to share writing in real time.
It is so easy to share your writing using the web, with blogging sites e.g. WordPress, Blogger, article sites e.g. Ezine, Squidoo and fiction sites e.g. FanFiction, Fictionpress. In 2005, it was said a new blog was created every second, so people obviously like this method of sharing their writing. But can you write the same online, knowing it will be public as you can in a personal notebook or computer?
I’m sure some people can, but I can’t.
My online writing
My first blog was on Livejournal and I never worked out why I should write there as well as in a journal so it became a strange collection of updates and notifications from other sites. This may explain why I didn’t keep it for much longer than a year. I started a blog on productivity and goals in 2007 and most of the posts are on topics that I would not think about including in my journal. Last summer I kept a log of our summer holiday so my family could read how my 1.5 year old daughter found her first sailing trip, but kept a journal at the same time.
So I’ve had several years when I’ve kept a blog and a journal on similar topics, what does it tell me?
Comparison of online and personal writing
I’ve collected extracts from my blogs and journals which were written on the same day and the same topic.
|2nd May 2006||I’ve been making a skirt to wear this weekend on a hen party. I’m almost finished and just realised I’ve made it too large. I’ve measured myself several times while I’ve been making it and trying on different parts to ensure it fits, but I got it wrong. At the moment my guess is it is between 2 and 4 inches too large.Do I take it apart and try to finish it on time or do I just put it aside and ignore it.||The downside is I have almost finished my pink skirt and it is significantly too large. I think I need to take it in by about 4 inches. I’ve only got tomorrow to get it sorted if I want to wear it on the hen party.|
|13th November 2007||This is my third day’s leave and it has been fantastic not having to go into work (although I have needed to check some emails on my blackberry).||It is back to work tomorrow. I’ve only had three days leave and a weekend, but it feels so much longer. I’ve almost forgotten what it is like to worry about work. Fortunately I haven’t done any of the work I brought home with me in case I was worrying about it. Unfortunately I have had to use the blackberry to make plans for the business planning tomorrow and I’ve seen several emails with subject lines that are concerning me a little. However, I won’t read them until tomorrow.|
|9th February 2008||At the chiropractors she manipulated my jaw and says that is why I’ve had a headache since Monday and it is mostly because I’ve been tensing my jaw – probably due to stress||Saw K yesterday afternoon and she said I’m doing very well, so well in fact I don’t need to go back for four months. My appointment is in June, this is despite going to Japan. However, I wasn’t in best form this visit and she had to manipulate my jaw for the first time in ages, however it should stop the headache I’ve had since Monday afternoon, and today my head has been much better. She thinks I’ve been clenching my jaw because of stress.|
|1st August 2010||B is doing better than I am. She has had two naps and even had a go at helming. Whereas I haven’t enjoyed the heeling and I’ve felt sea sick both days – I only have one previous memory of feeling sea sick so I’m blaming the boat (not one for us to buy).||It is unfortunate that I’ve felt sea sick both days we’ve sailed. My only previous recollection of being sea sick was on a hovercraft from France to Britain when Dad gave me anti sea sickness tablet. Yesterday was perhaps understandable as it was fairly bumpy, but it wasn’t today (or at least not before I felt sick. E also said he was starting to feel sick at one point so I wondered if perhaps the boat is the wrong style for us, but he thinks it may be because he had too much alcohol last night!B is getting into the sailing. When she can she tried to helm or put the motor on. She gets very excited when the boat tacks as the sail flap and she sometimes joins in the rope pulling.|
In fact, I think B is doing better than me. I thought I was doing better than last time, but apparently not. I don’t like it when the boat heels, particularly if it is sudden.
|5th August 2010||We are currently anchored in Chichester harbour at a place called East Head. It is the first time I’ve been here but it is a place full of memories for the other Ds as they used to come frequently with J’s father.||Our last night on board and we are somewhere new. East Head is in Chichester Harbour and is a place where E’s grandfather used to bring his children and grandchildren. They would anchor and use the dinghy to go to the beach.|
I have to admit I started this post with my conclusion already decided; you can’t write the same online as in a personal notebook or computer, and as you can see in the comparison most of the time I write less detail online and what you can’t see is my online writing was significantly shorter than my offline writing. However, I’ve found the process very enlightening; on a personal level I’ve realised:
- I frequently did not write online and in my journal on the same day
- When I did write on the same day they were often on different topics
- My livejournal blog collected information from a variety of different sites I was active on into one record
- I posted to my family blog using my Android phone and tried to include a photo everyday, whereas I have no pictures in my journal
- I like writing in a notebook
- I am very aware of my audience when I write online, so my writing is more careful
I still believe that blogging won’t replace personal writing, because some people don’t want an audience or like me will edit everything so it is suitable for public reading. However, what I had not expected was how well blogging and journalling complement each other. I have a record of things that I would not write about in my journal, but could be interested in looking back at in a few years.
So what next?
I am tempted to start my livejournal blog again! Now that I’ve realised how useful it was to capture notifications and information from other sites. When I think of the little titbits of information I write on Twitter and Facebook I would love to capture them and keep them with my journals. Are there any sites that do this? Or self hosted code where I collect a record of my online activities?