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Not Quite a Journal

Lynn's picture

 On Thursday, in Professor Grobstein's section, we spent a nice amount of time discussing the difference between private journaling and the tendency of people to post their journals online - for example, we talked about the ways in which Facebook or Livejournal have come to function as online, public journals for many people. I've been thinking about it, though, and I disagree; we concluded that Facebook/Livejournal/etc. have essentially replaced the private, paper journal, but I'm not certain that these things are comparable at all. We had considered the changing boundary between that which is public and that which is private, but I think that the difference between Livejournal and a traditional journal is more significant than the public/private dichotomy. I think that these online "journals" are actually closer to letter-writing than true journaling: a journal is composed of a set of reflections, ideally without any pomp or attempt at polish in the prose, that one writes stream-of-consciousness style to better connect with and understand oneself. The public or private nature of the information is of less importance, I think, than is the method of exploring it and its intended audience. In contrast, writing on the internet is filled with posturing and done, oftentimes, for attention or sympathy - to me, this sounds more like writing a letter than writing in a diary.


Anne Dalke's picture

for more about this, see

Laurie McNeill,

"Teaching an Old Genre New Tricks: The Diary on the Internet."

Biography 26, 1 (2003): 24-47.

skindeep's picture

flip side

while i do agree that postings things online isnt comparable to writing in a journal, i do think that online blogs/forums are revolutionizing the manner in which we deal with issues concerning self expression and communication. i know a lot of people who actively maintain blogs and have friends that they have made through these sites - for them blogs like tumblr and blogger are outlets for their thoughts and ideas, and a space to share things they are interested in and find other people, (potentially countries away) that are interested in the same stuff. none of them use it as a space to vent/talk about their latest emotional breakdown. so while i do recognize that there are tons of people who do use blogs as a method of 'letter writing' as lynn aptly calls it, i still see the possibility that these sites could be used as a way to bring people together and expand ones ability to express themselves.

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