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journal-ism


Today I spent some time going through earlier posts, making small tweaks or edits to image sizes – bringing the site back up to date with the new theme (courtesy of subtraction.com). Something that came to mind during this was that I haven’t been using this site as a sketchpad or notebook as much as I should. Tracing my mindspace through those earlier posts was quite fun, even the ideas I’d written even as little as 6 months ago seem so alien to me now – which is somewhat fascinating considering it’s all so open and public. The immediate comparison this draws is that of the private diary or journal.

Two very different writing positions emerge;

  • Write down ideas (which often feel quaint at a later time) in a private journal or diary, possibly withholding private thoughts or ideas not yet ‘finished’, or
  • Write it all down, in the aim of joining this community of thinkers collectively working out what to do with this crazy world.

Which is more productive, more useful, more inspiring or which makes you feel happier? All very difficult questions to answer decisively, since we’re talking about personal preference, so I think the criteria for ‘better’ in this case needs to be regarding what happens to the ideas or information contained within. What happens to the gems, those sketches and ideas wrapped up in these journals – be they bound or ‘pressed’?

In my experience, pocket journals are an absolute pleasure to scratch away in, all those project ideas, sketches for potential designs and even secrets such as the meaning of X – but after all that the pocket journals get filed away, shelved, thrown out. All those thoughts – as dated and meaningless to us now – are lost and never reemerge. So to this end, my pocket journal is both a blessing and a curse. I don’t think I could ever do away with a pen and piece of paper – it’s just too important to go without – but the text/image journal surely has a place. Which, in short I suppose, is why I (occasionally) maintain this blog. Now the private journal (imagine for a moment, that Corbusier’s sketchesor Eisenman’s diarieshad been made available) is the published journal, complete with inner thoughts, misspellings and newly formed ideas.

The diary is also distributed, indexed by Google, out there for all to see. Why is this worth writing about? What does this change in the way the mind works?This has a number of effects, one of which I’d like to spend some time on. This is that the translation from paper journal to web journal means my notes and sketches don’t get lost! They get filed, tagged, categorised, slugged, indexed and even searched for – meaning it’s much more difficult for me to not be able to find for that thing I was thinking about last year and maybe even last decade (not just yet, but in a years’ time I’ll be able to test this one out). Furthermore it’s possible for others to find these thoughts, which may even prompt a response or conversation.It’s not too hard to see the benefits to this, in the sense of important information retrieval. This week I had a meeting with a client and at the last possible minute (before it became too unimportant to worry about any further) I remembered that I could retrieve a portfolio piece illustrate a point, from one part of this blog. Suddenly these incidental notes, ideas and occasional examples are the easiest examples of my work to find and display – which is not a trivial thing at all.

These days I have as much trouble locating or finding my things as I did before the digital trend took off (the main difference being that now I have more of them, or at least more copies). To mediate this, lately I’ve been dabbling with the more trivial pieces of cloud computing – I write all of my emails online, I write and edit using google docs and I store my photos on flickr (yes, hardly using the potential of cloud computing, I know). Whilst these elements might seem minor they certainly have had an impact on the way I operate. I now use dropbox to store my commonly used and referenced files, which means that I can find them anywhere. I use google to index my own filesystem in gmail and now the pages on my own site.

I will one day make the upgrade to synced contacts and all those other geeky things which I always thought should be effortless and never seem to be. It all points towards a life spent on the web rather than a life spent off. Just think of a life augmented by elements of ‘reality’ (kicking a ball, laying on the grass or getting some sun) rather than the other way around. It’s all fascinating to consider and seems in many ways to be already here — rather than some distant future possibility.

I want to leave this post with a few concluding thoughts;

  1. I will from now on be posting more unfinished ideas, thoughts and notes here
  2. This will be for both my reference and yours, and
  3. I’ll be revisiting this post in 6 months time to ponder more on how things have changed.

1 Comment so far

  1. Interesting article. I thought to let you know that you website wasnt’t getting displayed properly on thunderhawk browser on my pda.Have a good time…sorry for typos

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