Before I forget …

Filed as Guides on July 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Someone asked me the other day why I write about personal stuff, what is the appeal of diaries, journals, personal blogs, and the like? I have been talking a lot about Posterous and life streams lately so perhaps this is a good opportunity to explain …

Bloggers are often obsessed about traffic, audience, subscribers, comments. Things change when you publish a personal blog. As well as hoping that others will read, perhaps far flung family members, or a potential book publisher, there is a different emphasis.

When you write a diary or personal blog, the main audience member is YOU.

We are not just talking about “Dear diary …” writing, but photography, video, podcasts and status updates. This is what is meant by a “life stream”. The stream is made up of many random bits and pieces but when you look back your memories jog and the fragments coalesce into an ordered history.

A year in the making

A year in photographs remembered from my personal Flickr archive

People worry about giving too many personal details away, but that worry does not necessarily need to stop you – this concern is hinged on assuming that you have to reveal everything, but in fact all you need to write, post or share is snippets. You can keep it safe while still gaining the benefits, because the intimate and personal stuff is filled in by your own memory once reminded.

What was once a difficult, fiddly or technical activity has now been made really easy by Posterous. All you need to be able to do is email, it does all the rest for you, even posting up video, audio and photographs. Check out my Posterous overview here.

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  1. By Stephen Downes posted on July 10, 2009 at 5:03 pm
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    What is the appeal?

    Well, first of all, when the hard drive on my computer inevitably dies, I’ll still have my photos and things somewhere.

    Second, the audience isn’t actually just one person. Close friends and family look at my photos and some of my writings.

    Third, it’s a legacy, for the distance future, a sort of virtual “I was here”.

    Fourth, I like to go back through the photos and writings from time to time and review what I was thinking at the time. Because, you know, sometimes I forget.

    Fifth, it’s not like it’s really private, so why cares?

    Sixth, the Blogger interface is a lot easier to use than any word processor, and the search on the web works a lot better than the search on my computer.

    Seventh, if I keep this up long enough, people will actually read my stuff, if only when they look me up for a job interview or something, so it’s nice to be able to give them some sense of who I am and what I think.

    Eighth, it’s great practise. It makes me a better writer (or photographer). Posting it online makes it more authentic (because of the possibility someone might see it) and hence, better practise.

    Ninth, I can link to stuff posted online in my Facebook account, but I can’t link to stuff sitting on my hard drive.

    Tenth, other people can sometimes use my stuff. A picture, for example, found in a search, might become part of a local tourism advertising campaign.

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  2. By Chris Garrett posted on July 10, 2009 at 5:26 pm
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    Nice list Stephen – thanks :)

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  3. By Tim Stone posted on July 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm
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    Here, here! I’m asked this all the time, not just about my personal blog, but also my twitter. I use twitter as my personal log of where I went, who I saw, and what I did. If anyone else cares to read it, fine, but nobody’s forcing anyone to follow me!

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  4. By Beautiful Girls posted on July 12, 2009 at 9:05 pm
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    hi,chris,i agree with you what you said in this article.Personal diaray is not only article stuff,it’s also the way to tell people what i did and what i thought.
    For me,this is good for me to practice writing skills.

    Reply

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