It’s the last day of the year and I’m approaching 400,000 words for my ‘personal’ diary. I write every day but am conscious of a pile of notebooks, tapes and letters dating back to the 80’s. I’d be keen to digitise them. Or to at least make the words searchable and safe. No idea if anyone would ever want to read them. Or even if I’d want them to. Some words are written for the self.
Today I often write with the expectation that my kids may read it one day. Nothing stays secret forever. It’s thought now that if you are writing on a computer nothing is secret full stop. I’m sure today’s diarists are aware of this and it has effected the way document and record. I’ve tried pen and paper. It’s not for me. Or should I say my scrawled thoughts look better when shaped by typeset. Plus a book is easily lost. My triple backed up cloud synced data although exposed to the internet, feels like it may survive me.
I feel that in these instances the lack of decent ubiquitous encryption is having a direct effect on our cultural history. What will we know of these times in the future? What we do and think is not gleaned from the churned algorithmic outputs from government and corporate snooping machines. This will not be an accurate picture of who we are. The person in the Panopticon does not bear their soul. We self censor in the public channels all the time, the line between public and private erased. Where can we log our thoughts so that those in a distant future can get an idea of who we are?
We are more than what we do. We are what we fail to do. What we plan to do. What we dare not do but consider.
When it comes to freedom of expression I’m all too aware of it’s scarcity. Privacy is key to freedom of thought but I have become a slave to convenience. For my diary I use the app ‘Day One’. Who knows how many people have access to the text and images I input on a daily basis. If there was an simple system that could encrypt and sync across devices then I’d be happier. I’d write more from the heart.
The thoughts I record if sometimes abstract and discreet will one day I hope give me enough of a clue to the complete picture. A memory cue. For as long as I can keep hold of my memories.
The reasons for journaling are many. The act of writing can improve your writing. It’s also meant to improve memory and focus. Logging your thoughts is therapeutic. It’s a journey into yourself. It uncovers hidden lessons. Tracks development and gives insight. It’s a record of your life. Proof that you did something. One day I might want to write a book and it’s first pages will come from my daily musings.
It’s for all these reasons and more that I choose to spend at least 20 minutes of each day tapping a record of what I did and what I’m thinking into a keyboard. I’ll continue to fight the feeling that none of this is private.
As I’ll continue to hope that we one day find a place where we can be alone with our thoughts.
Jonathan Littlewood says
>> If there was an simple system that could encrypt and sync across
>> devices then I’d be happier.
I’ve always written my Journal in markdown (hit on pretty much the same format long before 2004) as the safest format for continued access. Currently testing Boxcryptor to provide “trust no one” encryption with a variety of cloud storage solutions. The encryption keys never leave your devices so Boxcryptor, the storage suppliers and ISPs can’t compromise the content. Clients are available for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. I’m using MarkdownPad 2 on Windows and Jota+ on Android to edit, grepWin to search on the PC. Local backup decrypts as it reads from the cloud drive and so provides a unencrypted safety net should I ever lose the keys.
Hi Jonathan, I think you highlight the issue right there. There are options but none with encryption that works with a few clicks like the apps we have at our disposal. Perhaps an open source system could be developed to run with BitTorrent Sync or suchlike.
I have been journaling since…1972. I wonder how many words that would make now. Until 1996 not much is digital. Already a lot lost. And the more I age the more I want to conserve and curate those diaries, but I still do not know if it because I like being alone with my thoughts or on the contrary I wish I could really share those thoughts!
Wow. That’s my entire lifetime. A phenominal amount of text. I wonder how easy it would be to put a number to it.
Bernie Goldbach says
Recent events in my life validate the therapeutic function of some journaling so it is nice to see you validate that dimension. Too many people have a pure branding imperative whenever they share content. You have never been that way–thanks!
Hi Bernie. Just been reading your blog and the words you’re sharing about your incredibly brave Mother. Take care man.
Matt S says
I created ThreadThat dot com to give users a free and simple tool for encrypting and storing messages and files. Although designed for easy sharing, it can also be used to keep sensitive information encrypted and readily available from any device. There are no ads and all features are free. Does not require giving any personal info to use.
Hi Matt, I can’t see how your website solves any of the issues I raised. It’s also not clear if you allow your code to be independently vetted.
Thanks for the comment/ad though 😉