Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Diaries and Blogs

What is the same?

"What an odd thing a diary is: the things you omit are more important than those you put in." (Simone de Beauvoir)

What is the difference?

As I mentioned in a recent post I am reading Fridjoft Nansen's "Farthest North" - a day by day account of his 1890's expedition to the Arctic. It's 600 odd pages long in a very small font so I'm only halfway through but am enjoying it thoroughly.

Living a life of a bachelor, the house has become a bit of a mess, so in anticipation of the arrival of family, I've started clearing up a bit (although I know however much I do Nanda will not be satisfied!). Tackling the living room dining table (covered in computer magazines, books, technical papers ranging from Linux to marine crustaceans to orchids), tackling the mess of the kids' bedroom etc etc.

But I come across handwritten diaries in the '80s before I had a computer. And I start reading them. Memories ...

People I don't remember, people I remember but lost touch with years ago. Events I don't remember.

So what is the difference?

Well, unless google goes bust and its blogging service comes to an end, our blog will last forever. Even then, there's a good chance it will get stored on one of the Internet archive projects that have sprung up.

One day, my old paper diaries will be lost, eaten by bugs or destroyed in a fire (unless Iwas to transcribe them into a "blog" now - an awesome task! And would it really be of interest to anyone? As it is our blog only gets 30-50 hits a day and most of those are the posts on hacking BBC iPlayer from overseas!).

Nansen's Arctic journal reads like a blog, and given its unique theme, makes it read like a very good blog - much more interesting than my own random jottings about whatever comes into my head. Even Drs Crippen and Rant, Tom Reynolds (except when he starts writing about computer games!) stick to a theme. Although our blog initially had a predominant theme, Kezia's luekaemia, now she is off-treatment, it talks less and less about leukaemia - I have little to report, the results of periodic and increasingly less frequent medical examinations.

Rob, father of Fergus, optimistically started a new blog when his son came off-treatment.

But this blog will continue with the name "Life with Leukaemia" - as the doctors will not consider Kezia clear until 5 years have passed. I am not so optimistic/confident and this blog will continue with the same title for five years, when I might change it to Life after Leukaemia.

Another difference - back in Nansen's day few diaries were published and few bought. Literacy rates were much lower. Book-shops less ubiquitous. Money was perhaps tighter (... but given the current economic crisis!).

... which will lead on to the next post!

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