I created a new account only for this, and periodically send emails from that account to itself, each email representing a day and having a subject line of the form "July 20, 2016".
Since the account has never been used in any other way, the inbox becomes a pure index of dates, and the account receives no other messages because no person or service is aware it exists besides me.
--nobody can find it lying around
--nobody can ever even know it exists unless I tell them
--indexed, searchable.....can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to type in a person's name and find the day I met them, years and years later.
--never gets damaged or lost: it'll go down when gmail dies. not anytime soon.
--accessible from anywhere
But then there are many other memories, from 7 and 8 and 9 years ago, the small day-to-day interactions, the smaller subplots in the greater storyline....that may as well be from someone else's life. I know the places and people they're describing, but I have no memory of having done these things anymore. It's a little sad in a way.
I'm glad I keep a journal. 10/10 recommend even if you only update occasionally.
But what do you mean it's not really private?
IF you are referring to Google having access, this is my response, otherwise, not sure what you meant:
I mean....I believe in anonymity through numbers.
Even if there were employees at google for some insane reason sitting around reading private gmail accounts, what are the odds mine would come up for notice among more than a billion others? It's pretty ordinary. It's not full of child porn. It's like worrying someone would notice a particular grain of sand on a beach just because it's sitting right there in the open.
I have been using paper, Evernote and apps, but I love this simple approach and I think it will work really well for me, since there is so little friction with all the upside I am looking for.
It feels juvenile to hide it when I know no one will care, but the idea that it can be entirely personal opens the option to being more honest. Future self can still be judgemental, but the only way to avoid that is to pipe it to /dev/null instead.
Edit: I had a handwritten journal once when I was 13 or so, it disappeared, probably my mom finding and reading and destroying it. Just do it on a computer. Besides for me I can barely stand handwriting anything longer than a page anymore.
That is the most awful thing I've read today.
I snatched that from GoodQuotes. I'm no poet, but I feel like it carries a lot of truth. If somebody wanted to rob my house, if all of my most private thoughts and truths were stacked on the coffee table in the front room, they would still make off with my TV, and those books would still be sitting there when I came back to the aftermath.
I don't (yet) read it as quickly as I read normal English, though; if you're interested in self-reflection and review, this tradeoff won't be an obvious win.
I've seen Ford shorthand system which replaces alphabets with easier to write variants. It could also be used to write faster and provides some obscurity from the uninitiated.
Write honestly, review periodically, and discard what's really just mental or psychological dead-weight. It's surprising how much of that, once on paper, can be just let go and be done with.
I've used mostly moleskines for their range and availability, particularly the hard covers. Those all now have huge sections of sliced out pages so I'm trying their Valence line where every page is perforated.
The journal I keep is for my family. It's very brief, just date-events and (mostly) happy memories. I want to keep and share with my kids in the future. I find it's great for keeping track of my kids' developmental milestones, a perspective on time, and seeing just how much life my family squeezes in to a year. There are notes for myself, but I use a cryptic code so only I understand them (my wife's grandfather apparently had a similar system that the kids have never deciphered).
Google Photos has been a big enhancement as well. I make it a point to take gigs of photos every month, keep them backed up, and also enjoy them in the Google Photos timeline and scrapbooks it algorithmically generates. Before Google Photos, I was using Flickr, but that was a more manual process. Additionally, my wife and I combine our photo collections every quarter, which makes the digital family photo album a huge library of videos and moments in time that I visit all the time.
Strange thing is... before the digital camera on my phone and starting my journal on Google Drive, I have this big semi-empty place in my life history. I've tried to fill it in by sifting through old emails, scanning my parents' photo-albums, etc, but it's much thinner and the memories are therefore somewhat dimmer. I have a friend who said he will not start a journal of his daughter's life because he would feel so bad about not documenting her first two years and all the memories he would realize he'd lost. I didn't think about using my phone camera on a daily-basis until my first son was over a year-old. As a result we have much less of his first year documented, and I do feel a significant loss for failing to preserve that.
I typically want to see photos of myself later, but I'd rather remember what I saw so my memories come back. There are years where I have basically 10 good photos of me, but maybe a 1000 great photos of everything else.
What book will historians write about me from my git log (assuming historians figure out git's interface)?
: The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Writing down my thoughts also forces me to reflect on my conversations with other people. I often find myself seeing someone's point of view more clearly and better understanding their thought process. I thought I was open-minded before, but dissecting someone else's seemingly convoluted opinion makes you accept almost any possibility.
I also make sure to write as honest as possible. When I look back at my journals in the future, I want to think, "This is exactly how I perceived the event given my knowledge at the time." I write what happened, my thoughts on what happened, and how I reacted.
Summary: Write about how you felt, what you thought, and why. Don't simply catalog events.
I started a basic journal in my early 20's but it was really just a list of important things that happened to me, no embellishment or feelings, I should have taken the time to do more.
My journals are private, I use Evernote now but could do the same in a .txt file which I used to do. The technology is not important, setting aside a little time each day to document what happened and what you thought about it is. Start today people!
I wonder how important it is for most people in the world of today. I have every email I've written since about 1995. If I go read heart felt correspodence with close friends I effectly get at least some resemblance a journal. Before email I wouldn't have likely kept copies of letters I sent but now that's effectively automatic.
Similarly many people take an order or two more pictures than they did before digital picture and smartphones. Several times a year I stumble on my photo collection usually when searching for an old picture and I end up seeing a large percentage of my entire collection back to about 95. I've also had scanned all my dad's slide collection and my grandmother's photo collection.
Of course a dedicated journal would probably be better. I'm just pointing out that I get some of the benefits automatically.
I really wish I could fully backup and download my Facebook entries, comments, chats. Same with Line and Whatsapp. I used to backup all my SMS messages back when I used SMS.
Assuming my old emails from 20-odd years ago are representative - if you read your thoughts from N years ago, they'll probably seem stupid and gauche, and you'll realise that in N years' time you'll probably think exactly the same of your thoughts today. Not a positive thing, I say, if you wish to project a general attitude of confidence, especially if you have have a natural tendency to second guess yourself anyway.
On the other hand, if the few old photos I have are anything to go by, when you look at a photo of yourself from N years ago, there's a fair chance you'll look attractive and youthful - no matter how pedestrian (or worse) you thought your looks at the time. And then the same line of thought applies... but hopefully with an opposite result.
Yes, there's a period of your life when much of your writing is juvenile. My experience has been that there came a point where what I was writing took a distinct tone and clarity and actually managed to be good at times. I still catch myself liking and/or being amused by my various thoughts.
There's also the evolution of ideas and interests. Mine have evolved quite distinctly as I've passed through some five decades, almost, and watching what's changed, and what's remained constant, in that evolution is also fascinating. Well, for me, anyway.
I've added things like "topics" (sub-blogs based on links to a topic page) and "people" (ditto). A topic is a page and automatically shows (via ikiwiki inline) all the blog posts that link to the topic page. A person is also represented by a page, and similarly lists linking blog posts. Topics are usually using a meta link directive in ikiwiki, whereas people use a person/lastname.firstname link to achieve the same.
I wrote a little tool to make admining topic and person pages easier, and to easily add new blog posts and attach images or other files to the blog post. http://git.liw.fi/cgi-bin/cgit/cgit.cgi/jt/ has the code; I should probably write this up some day.
I've published some of my journal, related to one of my hobby projects. http://liw.fi/obnam/journal-dump/ if you're curious, though from server access logs I know nobody is.
I keep my journal private mostly so I can be more honest when I write. If I need to, I can be rude and impolite and use quite dirty language, which I wouldn't if I was writing in public. Also, some topics are private and nothing good will come from disclosing them.
So far my best answer is to do Jekyll, with every post 'published: false'. I like it because I can include LaTeX and probably even Lilypond.
Flaws are I haven't figured out easy photos, and haven't figured out how to journal from a mobile device.
I'd also like to encrypt my journal but I'm not sure how to combine that with git and searchability.
I have a capture template that automatically catalogs the entry to the right date. It comes up in a new window and I just write whatever I'm thinking. It works for me because it's so easy to hit C-c j when I'm doing anything at the computer and then I can write all I want. And if I want to make two entries on the same day, I can. The template has a little area for a title.
I've managed to journal a few times a week every week for over a year now.
Picked up from jrnl.sh. One text file per year. Single-line title starts with timestamp. No specific daily routine, just making an entry whenever I want to take notes. Usually plans or work log for personal projects.
What I like is the fact that I can just grep the whole thing to find relevant information.
I've been considering trying to put together an org-mode compatible mobile app that would support photos (syncing them to the same Dropbox folder), but that's tricky.
I guess you/we will have to find a compromise.
Because of that ad-hoc experience, I do a mm / dd / yyyy for each entry - because I've journaled literally years between entries! (do not recommend) These bits and pieces of trivial information do provide a regularity, a structure, a ritual to the matter. Anyway.
I highly recommend keeping a reflection on what you do. It provides introspection now and later.
So with all these online services where we're living our lives we should save these in a kind of journal. Twitter, pinboard, flickr, etc.
I am really interesting in Camlistore for this and the fact that you can add normal files of any size to it as well. Now I can archive my old notes which aren't useful right now, but I wouldn't want lost somehow.
I wonder if someone keeps such a thing, and how would it be.
How could the concept of lab journal apply to computer science and/or software engineering ?
- Symptoms (how is the bug manifesting)
- Initial Observations (This is where you dig into the code/debugger and write down all the weird things that are happening)
- Guess (A statement of what you think is causing this based on your observations)
- Fix (what change you made)
- Result (Did it fix the bug? Did some new bug pop up as a result?)
- Repeat till bug resolved
Obviously, it's hard to keep writing so meticulously about bugs, but it sure does help when something similar pops up again.
The notebook is useful in quite a few ways. Often in a project you investigate many different ideas (should I implement the algorithm this way? a different way?) and discard those that don't work, and the notebook is a record of the reasons I threw away each idea. When the idea pops up six months later, or I need to mention it in a paper, I can remember what the results were and why it failed.
When I'm investigating a weird bug or exploring some possible improvement, the notebook records my progress. I might be profiling a slow chunk of code to find potential improvements, pasting each profile into the journal, and then refer back to them to see if my changes have helped.
I also record various ideas I have but don't have time to explore, papers I've read with potentially useful information, research progress, and all sorts of useful stuff. I find I don't actually have to refer back to old entries very often -- mostly just to the last couple days as I'm working through a problem -- but it's very reassuring to have around.
I suspect the role of the lab notebook is subsumed by public bug trackers and mailing lists for collaborative developers -- if you're tracking down a bug, you might post your progress in the GitHub or Bugzilla issue so your collaborators can follow along. I know Mozilla carefully links commits to bugs so they have a permanent record of every change that went into their code.
So for me it applies in exactly the same way.