"Let life enchant you again." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
March 14, 2007

Blogs And Diaries

Have blogs replaced diaries and journals and what will that mean if in the future they are deleted or no longer readable

Thanks to Matt Stone for commenting on a SMH piece, outlining the way teenagers today prefer to blog rather than keep a diary. Matt asks,

I wonder how many blogs (and bloggers) will stand the test of time.

It’s a good question. Of course, diaries and diarists play have played an important part in the shaping and writing of history. Much of our political history, recent and ancient, comes to us through the diaries of the famous and not so famous. The same is also true of the history of the church and lately, the history of many businesses.

Perhaps no diary was more famous in the 20th century than that of Anne Frank. Vaclav Havel wrote of it,

“The content of Anne Frank’s legacy is still very much alive and it can address us fully, especially at a time when the map of the world is changing and when dark passions are awakening within people.”

This example should probably be a lesson to us, not to underestimate the the value of diarising everyday experience.

But having said that, it is also worth pointing out (as I’ve done on a few other occasions) that blogs are not necessarily the same thing as a diary or personal journal. Certainly I don’t blog in the same way as I would journal – far from it. Blogs are best understood as personal publications that may, or may not take the form of a diary or journal.

There is a great deal of my life, my thoughts, that does not appear here. The same is probably true of a lot of bloggers, especially those who blogs are atuned to selective topics or issues. For a lot of bloggers, the blog is not an end in itself, rather the final test of the blog will be the sucess, or flourishing of some other work or effort that is not blogging.

For this sort of blogger what a blog has in common with a diary is the sense that one’s work is worth thinking about, worth organising and worth reflecting upon. I tend to re-read my old journals when time permits as well as to go over old blogposts. I find it makes me appreciate more the experiences I have been blessed with and to learn from them. It’s part of a commitment to being a learning-being and to trying to live a life that is worth remembering.

So maybe, in the end, blogs will stand the test of time if they produce better people?

roy donkin 17 years ago

interesting thoughts Fern… of course the biggest difference between a diary or journal and a blog is te public nature of the blog. I think that is both the strength and the weakness of a blog. Obviously some thoughts and feelings don’t get shared… and others begin larger conversations. In the end, your question is the real one, are we better people because of our interactions with the screen and with one another?

Fernando Gros 17 years ago

Roy – yes, the public nature of the blog is a crucial one. From the point of view of a historical document it could be a weakness, if people blog and don’t keep a diary or journal. The public nature shapes the content and sometimes the decision to publish or not publish.

For example, time and again I don’t blog certain experiences and issues, simply because I don’t want to out people, break confidences or just plain get into fights. There’s a book review I’m trying to decide about publishing simply because it is critical about someone I know personally.

But from the point of view of history, I would want my experiences to contribute in the longer term. I often wonder how other bloggers feel about this.

Eddy E 17 years ago

A blog can be whatever the blogger wants it to be… and for many it is a diary. To be blunt, I think it’s stupid that it has become that for many, but then again, you gotta wonder whether Jesus’s words that “all things hidden will come to light” is being fulfilled by the blogging tools.

In an increasingly global world, blogs give an opportunity not just to publish but learn from one another–at my best, that’s what I hope for my blog (to reflect, learn and be a resource to others). At my worst, I’m just another narcissist…

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